Duke University Scientists: Silicone Wristbands Track Firefighters’ Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

  • Source: Duke - Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Published: 05/25/2022 12:00 AM

Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from the disease than the general adult U.S. population, according to studies by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and other agencies. Recent research by scientists at Duke University could give doctors and public health officials a new tool for tracking firefighters’ exposures to cancer-causing chemicals and determining where and when the risks might be greatest. The cool thing is, it’s not some expensive high-tech gadget. It’s just a silicone wristband, purchased in bulk for about $1 apiece. “It turns out that ordinary silicone wristbands, like the ones sold in stores, absorb the semi-volatile organic compounds you’re exposed to while you’re out in the world,” said Jessica Levasseur, a PhD student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study.


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