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The following are questions frequently asked about the FSES Program's silicone wristbands. Our Technical Attributes page provides in-depth information about the capabilities of our wristband technology.
The wristbands are made of silicone, and are generally like the silicone wristbands often sold by charity groups to raise awareness for a cause. However, the wristbands go through a rigorous cleaning process to remove contaminants from the manufacturing process so they are suitable as trace chemical samplers.
You wear the wristband like you wear a bracelet. It can be worn outside, in the shower, while cooking food, sleeping, etc. We do ask that you avoid applying lotion or personal care products directly onto the wristband. Watch our video “The Passive Sampling Wristband” to learn more.
Pick it up and put it back on! Note on your form any direct spills or drops onto wristband.
Yes! The wristband can detect both indoor and outdoor environmental air quality.
Depending on the damage (small tear, etc.), you may still be able to wear it without harming the ability of the wristband to sequester chemicals. Give your study coordinator a call and they will be able to advise you.
The wristband is sensitive enough to detect measurable levels of chemicals in a few hours. You can also wear the wristband for an entire week (or longer) to get an average estimate of chemical exposures. The specific duration will vary from study to study. Please contact your study coordinator if you have questions.
For the wristband to work best, the more access to the environmental air the better. If your work requires long sleeves/gloves that cover up the wristband, consider wearing the wristband on the outside of your gloves, or it can be pinned to your shirt during work hours. We do have a lapel configuration. If you wear your wristband underneath your gloves or shirt please note that with your study coordinator.
The color does not matter. Currently we have many colors (including: solid orange, solid orange-and-white, swirled orange-and-white, green, pink, black, red-and-blue).
We call this ‘equilibrium.’ Yes, some chemicals will reach equilibrium with the environment, they will represent the estimated average concentration of the chemical over the time worn. This is the case for small very volatile chemicals like naphthalene. We have tested the samplers in highly contaminated environments for many days, and did not see evidence of saturation for large organic chemicals, for example pyrene. Even at equilibrium, the sampler will be able to detect changes in the chemical concentration, and will accurately reflect the average concentrations over the period worn.
Yes. Volatile chemicals like xylene and n-undecane can be determined. Also semi-volatile chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are associated with unconventional natural gas drilling, and we have used our samplers to detect these chemicals.
The passive samplers cannot detect mold, mildew, radon, lead or carbon monoxide.
Yes, we can detect certain pesticides and organic chemical fertilizers, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the smoke from field burning.
We can detect chemical concentrations as low as 1 part per trillion (ppt) in the air. To put that in perspective, imagine the entire state of Indiana was covered in kitchen tile and each tile was 1 square foot. Imagine all those squares are orange, but one square is black. That is 1 part per trillion. We can detect higher concentrations as well, like parts per billion (ppb) and parts per million (ppm).
We either remove chemicals from the wristbands using heat (thermal desorption) or soak the wristbands in solvent to capture the chemicals; we call these processes “extracting” the wristband. After extraction, we use an instrument call a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) to measure the chemicals. Here's an animation that explains how GC-MS works.
We are primarily interested in all organic chemicals that may adversely affect our environment or health. One group of chemicals is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are contaminants of concern at many polluted sites like Superfund sites. PAHs are also associated with urban pollution, from cars and coal burning, as well as crude oil spills and other petroleum operations. Some PAHs are known or thought to cause cancer, while other PAHs are associated with other respiratory and health issues. For example, phenanthrene is a PAH known to adversely affect lung function. Learn more about the chemicals we can evaluate, such as pesticides and flame retardants.