Become a citizen scientist, simply by wearing this bracelet. Researchers at Oregon State University recently found that common silicone bracelets — like those Livestrong bracelets that were once all the rage — could be altered to detect almost 1,400 different chemical compounds. Now, a company, MyExposome, has taken the technology and created bands so that everyday people (like you and me) can wear them and collect data to figure out what chemicals we are exposed to.
So, how does it work? First, the bracelets are washed in a solvent and then, when you wear them, they absorb the chemicals that are found in the environment. These could be found in fragrances, pesticides, caffeine, nicotine, pet products, you name it. The wristbands mimic biologic membranes and, like cells, can absorb volatile and semi-volatile chemicals.
For example, construction workers could wear the bands and show their exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These are on the EPA’s priority danger list, but without a way to detect them, no one knows just how much a construction worker or roofer might be exposed.
The OSU researchers had third-trimester pregnant women wear the bands to measure their chemical exposure. MyExposome CEO Marc Epstein said that after wearing the bracelet for a week and getting his results, he is changing the way he buys and uses personal care products and cleaning supplies.
“The specific change is that I’ve started trying to buy fragrance-free products,” Epstein said. “Why? Because I now understand that many of those lovely smells in shampoos / soaps / colognes / etc… are not essential-oils but rather they are man-made chemicals. For example my wristband detected both Cashmeran and Galaxolide (neither of which I had ever heard of) and one of which (Galaxolide) is classified as a PBT (Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic). I’m trying (with some difficulty) to avoid products with fragrances.”
MyExposome also will not comment on the potential dangers of various chemicals — it simply will report the findings. It’s up to you to do your research about the various chemicals and how they might affect you. Of course, results don’t come cheap.
It costs $995 to wear the band for a week and have MyExposome analyze the results. Hopefully, that price will come down over time. For now, the company has started a Kickstarter campaign to try and get these bracelets to everyone.
Images via MyExposome