Wristband samplers show similar chemical exposure across three continents

April 22, 2019

CORVALLIS, Ore. - To assess differences and trends in personal chemical exposure, Oregon State University researchers deployed chemical-sampling wristbands to individuals on three continents.

After they analyzed the wristbands that were returned, they found that no two wristbands had identical chemical detections. But the same 14 chemicals were detected in more than 50 percent of the wristbands returned from the United States, Africa and South America.

"Whether you are a farmworker in Senegal or a preschooler in Oregon, you might be exposed to those same 14 chemicals that we detected in over 50 percent of the wristbands," said Holly Dixon, a doctoral candidate at Oregon State and the study's lead author.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

This study demonstrates that the wristbands, which absorb chemicals from the air and skin, are an excellent screening tool for population exposures to organic chemicals, said Kim Anderson, an OSU environmental chemist and leader of the research team. It's notable, she said, that most of the 14 common chemicals aren't heavily studied.

"Some of these are not on our radar, yet they represent an enormous exposure," she said. "If we want to understand the impact of chemical exposures, this was very enlightening."

Anderson and her team invented the wristband samplers several years ago. They have been used in other studies, including one that measured Houston residents' exposure in floodwaters after Hurricane Harvey.

In this study, 242 volunteers from 14 communities in four countries - the United States, Senegal, South Africa and Peru - wore a total of 262 wristbands. The Houston residents were included in the study.

Oregon State researchers analyzed the wristbands for 1,530 unique organic chemicals. The number of chemical detections ranged from four to 43 per wristband, with 191 different chemicals detected. And 1,339 chemicals weren't detected in any wristband. They detected 36 chemicals in common in the United States, South America and Africa.

Because the wristbands don't measure chemical levels, the study authors didn't make any conclusions regarding health risks posed by the wearers of wristbands. But certain levels of chemical exposures are associated with adverse health outcomes.

For example, exposure to certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been associated with cancer, self-regulatory capacity issues, low birth weight and respiratory distress. These chemicals were found in many of the wristbands.

Exposure to specific flame retardants, which were found in wristbands in the U.S. and South America, has been associated with cancer, neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.

And exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) has been linked to health effects such as low semen quality, adverse pregnancy outcomes and endocrine-related cancers.

The researchers detected 13 potential EDCs in more than half of all the wristbands.

Other notable findings in the study included: Toxicological and epidemiological studies often focus on one chemical or chemical class, yet people are exposed to complex chemical mixtures, rather than to a single chemical or an individual chemical class. The results reveal common chemical mixtures across several communities that can be prioritized for future study, Dixon said.

The study authors noted two significant limitations. They relied on a convenience sample of volunteers and did not randomly recruit participants, so the chemical exposures they reported may not be representative of all chemical exposures in the 14 communities.

Also, deployment length varied depending on the specific project. But they didn't detect a difference in the number of chemicals detected based on how long a participant wore a wristband.
-end-
Anderson directs the Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship Program in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Other OSU co-authors on the study are Michael Barton, Alan J. Bergmann, Mary Halbleib, Peter Hoffman, Paul Jepson, Molly L. Kile, Laurel Kincl, L. Blair Paulik, Gary L. Points III, Carolyn M. Poutasse, Brian Smith and Lane G. Tidwell.

Other institutions contributing to the study included Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Cincinnati, Columbia University, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Oregon State University

Related Flame Retardants Articles from Brightsurf:

Blue whirl flame structure revealed with supercomputers
Main structure and flow structure of 'blue whirl' flame revealed through supercomputer simulations.

New research reveals mysterious blue whirl flame structure
A recently discovered soot-free flame called a blue whirl - which consumes all fuel it encounters -- actually consists of three different flame structures that swirl together into one otherworldly blue ring, according to the first study to identify how these unique flames form.

A shake-up in cell culturing: Flame sterilization may affect the culture
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found that flame-sterilizing shake-flasks, to avoid introducing microbial contaminants, considerably increases the carbon dioxide concentration in the flasks.

Study finds another reason to wash hands: Flame retardants
Harmful flame retardants may be lurking on your hands and cell phone, according to a peer-reviewed study published today in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

Study reveals birth defects caused by flame retardant
A new study from the University of Georgia has shown that exposure to a now-banned flame retardant can alter the genetic code in sperm, leading to major health defects in children of exposed parents.

Flame retardants and pesticides overtake heavy metals as biggest contributors to IQ loss
Adverse outcomes from childhood exposures to lead and mercury are on the decline in the United States, likely due to decades of restrictions on the use of heavy metals, a new study finds.

Prenatal Exposure to Flame Retardants Linked to Reading Problems
A new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons suggests that prenatal exposure to flame retardants may increase the risk of reading problems.

New flame retardants, old problems
New flame retardants escaping from our TVs, other electrical and electronic products, and children's car seats are just as toxic as the flame retardants they're intended to replace, according to a peer-reviewed study published today in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

Flame retardants -- from plants
Flame retardants are present in thousands of everyday items, from clothing to furniture to electronics.

New process discovered to completely degrade flame retardant in the environment
A team of environmental scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and China has for the first time used a dynamic, two-step process to completely degrade a common flame-retardant chemical, rendering the persistent global pollutant nontoxic.

Read More: Flame Retardants News and Flame Retardants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.