OSU scientists create bracelets that detect pollution - KPTV - FOX 12

OSU scientists create bracelets that detect chemicals and pollution

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Photo: OSU Photo: OSU

Oregon State University scientists have created a fashion accessory that doubles as a pollution detector.

The silicone bracelets, similar in style to the various wristbands that support charitable causes, have a porous surface that mimics a cell, absorbing chemicals that people are exposed to through their environment.

In an OSU experiment, 30 volunteers wore the bracelets for a month. The bracelets soaked up nearly 50 chemical compounds, including traces of fragrances and other personal care products.

They also detected flame-retardants, pesticides, caffeine, nicotine and chemicals from pet flea medicines.

Roofers also wore the wristbands, showing exposure to 12 substances on the Environmental Protection Agency's priority list.

The bracelets, however, cannot detect some metals, like lead and chromium, or gases like carbon monoxide.

To extract the pollutants, the users send the bracelets to OSU where they are soaked and shaken in a mix of solvents, which pull chemical compounds into a liquid that can be tested in a lab. Researchers can screen for 1,200 chemicals that may accumulate in the wristbands.

OSU's research was published in the article "Silicone Wristbands as Personal Passive Samplers" in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The full study, which is available at http://bit.ly/OSU_WristbandStudy, was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, the OSU Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship Program, and the National Institutes of Health.

The bracelets are not yet available to the public. The goal is to eventually license the bracelets to a company or start a new company to distribute them.

For information on upcoming studies involving the bracelets, including the potential for participating in a study, go to http://citizen.science.oregonstate.edu.

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