CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University scientists have developed a wristband that can track everyday pollution that any given person is exposed to.
The silicone bracelet, which looks like a Livestrong wristband, soaks in the same chemicals that humans would also absorb.
“It can mimic a cell,” said OSU Professor Kim Anderson, who is working on the project. “One of the things as toxicologists and environmental chemists that we’re interested in is understanding what your individual exposure is.”
She says as a researcher, she is interested in understanding how the environment affects human health.
“The first part of that question is understanding what your environmental health exposures are,” she said.
Anderson says the wristbands are a way to measure chemicals one would be exposed to on a daily basis; for example: flame-retardants, pesticides, caffeine, nicotine, and chemicals from pet flea medicines. She says she hopes the wristbands will open a door to more studies to find links between certain diseases and different chemicals found in the environment.
“Certainly genetics play a role in disease, but the environment appears to have a huge role in disease,” Anderson said.
The bands, made out of silicone, are different from other popular wristbands.
“What’s different between this band and something like a Livestrong would be that we’ve taken a lot of the extraneous rubber out of it,” said Steven O’Connell, an OSU graduate student working on the project.
O’Connell says the team has removed particles that would interfere with absorbing chemicals.
The orange and white wristbands do not alert those wearing them of chemicals that have been absorbed. Instead, researchers say the chemicals stay inside the wristband until they can extract them through a process involving a solvent. Scientists place a wristband in a jar with a solvent that absorbs the chemicals from the band. The solution is condensed through an evaporation process to then be tested.
Anderson says so far, researchers are able to test for 1,200 different chemicals. Though the bands are not available to the general public yet, researchers are looking for volunteers to wear the bands for different studies. More information is available by clicking here.
Anderson says eventually the goal is to be able to get the wristbands on the market. The team is working on developing wristbands in six other colors before this summer.