Research Article: Silicone wristbands compared with traditional polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure assessment methods

Date Published: April 2, 2018

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg

Author(s): Holly M. Dixon, Richard P. Scott, Darrell Holmes, Lehyla Calero, Laurel D. Kincl, Katrina M. Waters, David E. Camann, Antonia M. Calafat, Julie B. Herbstman, Kim A. Anderson.


Currently there is a lack of inexpensive, easy-to-use technology to evaluate human exposure to environmental chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This is the first study in which silicone wristbands were deployed alongside two traditional personal PAH exposure assessment methods: active air monitoring with samplers (i.e., polyurethane foam (PUF) and filter) housed in backpacks, and biological sampling with urine. We demonstrate that wristbands worn for 48 h in a non-occupational setting recover semivolatile PAHs, and we compare levels of PAHs in wristbands to PAHs in PUFs-filters and to hydroxy-PAH (OH-PAH) biomarkers in urine. We deployed all samplers simultaneously for 48 h on 22 pregnant women in an established urban birth cohort. Each woman provided one spot urine sample at the end of the 48-h period. Wristbands recovered PAHs with similar detection frequencies to PUFs-filters. Of the 62 PAHs tested for in the 22 wristbands, 51 PAHs were detected in at least one wristband. In this cohort of pregnant women, we found more significant correlations between OH-PAHs and PAHs in wristbands than between OH-PAHs and PAHs in PUFs-filters. Only two comparisons between PAHs in PUFs-filters and OH-PAHs correlated significantly (rs = 0.53 and p = 0.01; rs = 0.44 and p = 0.04), whereas six comparisons between PAHs in wristbands and OH-PAHs correlated significantly (rs = 0.44 to 0.76 and p = 0.04 to <0.0001). These results support the utility of wristbands as a biologically relevant exposure assessment tool which can be easily integrated into environmental health studies.

Partial Text

The assessment of an individual’s exposure to chemicals in the environment is critical to understanding if and how these exposures may affect human health. Identifying links between environmental chemical exposure and health continues to be a focus of exposure science and environmental epidemiology studies [1, 2]. Despite the importance of chemical exposure assessment, there is little information about the frequency and magnitude of personal exposures to many chemicals [3]. In addition, there is a lack of easy-to-use technology for accurate assessment of personal exposure to environmental chemicals.

Wristbands captured and recovered PAHs in a 48-h time period when worn by pregnant women in New York City. Wristbands are a candidate technology to include in environmental health studies in a similar manner to air-monitoring backpacks and urine samples. Acknowledging the small sample size in this pilot study, there were three times more positive correlations between PAH and OH-PAH pairs in wristbands and urine samples than there were between PUFs-filters and urine samples. Phenanthrene and pyrene in wristbands strongly correlated with 1-OH-phenanthrene and 1-OH-pyrene in urine, respectively. The correlation patterns from the wristband, PUF-filter, and urine comparisons could be the result of wristbands incorporating both dermal and gaseous-phase PAH exposure, wristbands being in close proximity to PAH point sources, and/or wristbands more selectively capturing the bioavailable PAH fraction. Additional investigation of these factors will help researchers to better understand personal exposure to environmental chemicals. Overall, wristbands are an easy-to-use and effective PAH external exposure assessment tool to integrate into exposure science and epidemiological studies.




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