A Week In Chemicals

Hot, sharp, stinky or rotten: it’s easy to avoid hazards when you can see or smell them—especially when you feel the ill effects immediately. But how do we avoid the hazards we can’t see, and harm that we won’t feel until years down the line? That’s a 21st century health challenge.

Our Emerging Leader Board member Bethany Thomas was one of 28 people nationwide participating in a “week in chemicals” experiment with Environmental Defense Fund this summer to make those invisible hazards visible.


Bethany and Andrea Durbin learn the wristband test results at Townshend’s Tea in Eugene

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) provided these 28 volunteers with a wristband, developed by Oregon State University, capable of detecting more than 1,400 chemicals in our environment.

After a week, each participant sent the wristband to OSU scientists for analysis—and then EDF provided each participant with a profile of their exposure. TV reporter Keely Chalmers was also among the 28 participants.

The results? Pollution from chimneys and tailpipes is no surprise, nor is exposure to pesticides. Perhaps most surprising was the great variety of chemicals they encountered that are used in consumer products.


Here is the story as covered by KGW News in Portland, followed by OEC answers to viewer questions.

See the wristband results.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.31.25 AMwristband_Results

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.30.34 AMThis new wristband technology is just getting off the ground. In fact, Corvallis-based MyExposome launched a Kickstarter this month; act fast, and you can get your own bracelet for a donation of about $1,000.

Personal exposure monitoring may one day be a critical piece in the puzzle of how to avoid hazards and prevent chronic disease. But there’s no reason to wait, when it’s possible to replace hazards with safer alternatives. See more about OEC’s vision for Toxic-Free Environments.

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