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03/10/2014 08:23 am ET | Updated Mar 10, 2014

Rubber Wristbands Could Give Clues To Chemical Exposure

Valerie Loiseleux via Getty Images

Those silicone rubber wristbands are not only a way to broadcast support for a cause or organization -- a new study suggests they could also provide information on the environmental chemicals to which you're exposed on a daily basis.

Because silicone is able to absorb a number of different compounds, Oregon State University researchers thought silicone wristbands could be a potential way to monitor exposure to compounds by providing passive sampling of said compounds.

To test this theory, the researchers had study participants wear modified silicone wristbands in different settings for different periods of time (for instance, they had roofers wear the wristbands to monitor occupational exposure).

Forty-nine different substances were found to be absorbed by the wristbands in the study, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which have been shown in animal studies to cause tumors and birth defects (though such effects have not been shown in humans).

"Silicone personal samplers present an innovative sampling technology platform producing relevant, quantifiable data," the researchers wrote in the Environmental Science & Technology study. Ultimately, the researchers said they hope this method could be a way to provide more information on safety of exposure to different environmental chemicals.

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