JUN 01, 2022 10:30 AM PDT

Wristband Tracks Firefighter Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Researchers at Duke University have developed a wristband that can track a firefighter’s exposure to a range of deadly and toxic chemicals. The wristband and results from a preliminary pilot study are described in a recent paper published in Science of the Total Environment

Firefighters put themselves at risk every day battling blazes. However, in doing so, they are also exposing themselves to a range of toxic chemicals that can increase their risk of health problems and complications, particularly cancer. Firefighters are 9% more likely to be diagnosed and 14% more likely to die of cancer compared to the general population. 

In response to this troubling trend, researchers have developed a silicon wristband that can gauge a wearer’s exposure to around 134 chemicals with carcinogenic qualities, including certain types of flame retardants and phthalates. The ability to monitor this kind of exposure could help treat firefighters and potentially help address these troubling cancer statistics among firefighters.

Made of silicon, the wristband (which is, surprisingly, very cheap) can absorb many of the compounds one might come into contact with, allowing researchers and doctors to get a sense of where you’ve been and what you’ve likely been exposed to.

In the study, researchers tracked 30 different firefighters at the Durham Fire Department who wore the wristband during a regular six-day shift as well as when they were off duty for baseline purposes.

Of the 134 chemicals the wristband could detect, about 71 of them were detected by around half of the wristbands worn.

Interestingly, researchers noted that exposure to certain brominated flame retardants, among other chemicals, were higher in firefighters while on duty compared to when off duty. However, exposure was still detected while a firefighter was off duty, suggesting that for firefighters, exposure risks remain whether they are working or not.

The research team notes that more study is needed to identify the exact sources contributing to this increased exposure risk, including whether the exposure is coming from chemicals lingering in a firehouse station or on protective gear. 

Sources: Science Daily; Science of the Total Environment

About the Author
Professional Writing
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
OCT 11, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Potential For 24/7 Solar Power from Solar Harvesting
OCT 11, 2022
Potential For 24/7 Solar Power from Solar Harvesting
In a recent study published in Physical Review Applied, a team of researchers from the University of Houston reports on ...
OCT 13, 2022
Technology
Robotic Pill Effective for Oral Delivery of Medications Like Insulin
OCT 13, 2022
Robotic Pill Effective for Oral Delivery of Medications Like Insulin
Treating and managing diabetes can be a lot of work, and it’s a condition that affects about 10% of Americans to d ...
OCT 26, 2022
Health & Medicine
Substance Abuse Recovery Assistance with Virtual Reality
OCT 26, 2022
Substance Abuse Recovery Assistance with Virtual Reality
In a recent study published in Discover Mental Health, a team of researchers led by Indiana University examine how virtu ...
NOV 03, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Martian Core Identified Through Planetary Scan
NOV 03, 2022
Martian Core Identified Through Planetary Scan
In a recent study published in Nature Astronomy, a pair of researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) hav ...
DEC 02, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
CO2 Levels Show No Sign of Slowing Down
DEC 02, 2022
CO2 Levels Show No Sign of Slowing Down
Global carbon emissions show no sign of slowing down despite a need to stay below 1.5°C of total warming, an article ...
DEC 02, 2022
Space & Astronomy
JWST Images Titan Like Never Before
DEC 02, 2022
JWST Images Titan Like Never Before
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) keeps sending us fantastic pictures of our universe, but this time it was ...
Loading Comments...