Discovery of common chemical exposures across three continents using silicone wristbands

R Soc Open Sci. 2019 Feb 6;6(2):181836. doi: 10.1098/rsos.181836. eCollection 2019 Feb.


To assess differences and trends in personal chemical exposure, volunteers from 14 communities in Africa (Senegal, South Africa), North America (United States (U.S.)) and South America (Peru) wore 262 silicone wristbands. We analysed wristband extracts for 1530 unique chemicals, resulting in 400 860 chemical data points. The number of chemical detections ranged from 4 to 43 per wristband, with 191 different chemicals detected, and 1339 chemicals were not detected in any wristband. No two wristbands had identical chemical detections. We detected 13 potential endocrine disrupting chemicals in over 50% of all wristbands and found 36 chemicals in common between chemicals detected in three geographical wristband groups (Africa, North America and South America). U.S. children (less than or equal to 11 years) had the highest percentage of flame retardant detections compared with all other participants. Wristbands worn in Texas post-Hurricane Harvey had the highest mean number of chemical detections (28) compared with other study locations (10-25). Consumer product-related chemicals and phthalates were a high percentage of chemical detections across all study locations (36-53% and 18-42%, respectively). Chemical exposures varied among individuals; however, many individuals were exposed to similar chemical mixtures. Our exploratory investigation uncovered personal chemical exposure trends that can help prioritize certain mixtures and chemical classes for future studies.

Keywords: chemical mixtures; endocrine disruptor chemicals; exposure science; flame retardants; phthalates; semivolatile organic compounds.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4375811