Those wristbands worn to support favorite charities may one day double as a bellwether for environmental chemicals.
Researchers at Oregon State University put wristbands made of silicone, a material that absorbs chemicals like our skin cells do, through a special cleaning process to optimize chemical absorption. Thirty volunteers then wore the accessories for a month. When the wristbands were collected, scientists measured a total of 49 chemical compounds in the bracelets.
Most common were chemicals from personal-care products, such as fragrances. Also present: pesticides, flame retardants, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), potentially cancerous compounds released during burning (think forest fires, cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust, and grilled food) that can seep into our air, soil, food, and water.