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‘Personal passive samplers’

March 12, 2014

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Wristbands have become trendy accessories in recent years for promoting certain causes, but they may soon have a more important function in the workplace: detecting chemical exposures.

Researchers from Oregon State University have determined that silicone wristbands absorb many chemicals and can be used to measure the level of exposure of those chemicals. In a study published in the February issue of Environmental Science & Technology, researchers had volunteers wear the wristbands for 30 days, during which the bracelets picked up 49 compounds, ranging from caffeine and nicotine to pesticides and flame retardants.

To test an occupational setting, some roofers wore the wristbands for eight hours and, sure enough, the bracelets showed they were exposed to hydrocarbons found in roofing tar.

In effect, the wristbands functioned as “personal passive samplers,” according to the study abstract.

The research is still ongoing, but wouldn’t it be cool if slogan-bearing wristbands could also save lives?

Do you have any ideas for clothing or accessories that could double as personal protective equipment? Let me know in the comments section.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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