Inexpensive and convenient devices such as silicone wristbands can be used to yield quantitative air quality data, which is particularly appealing for periods of susceptibility such as pregnancy. The wristbands, when used as passive samplers, have the ability to bind smaller molecular weight semi-volatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — a class of chemicals that occurs naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline and are produced when coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, and tobacco are burned — in a similar pattern as active sampling.
A study was conducted to quantify maternal PAH exposure in pregnant women. To gather the data, participants carried backpacks containing air-sampling equipment. A silicone wristband was also attached to each backpack. After three non-consecutive 24-hour periods, the air-sampling equipment and wristbands were analyzed for PAHs.
When the researchers analyzed and compared the data from the air-sampling equipment and the wristbands, they found that the wristbands yielded similar results to the more traditional testing methods. The use of the silicone wristbands as a passive sampler could be useful in studies of semi-volatile PAHs. Wristbands have been used to detect a number of pollutants but qualification of those pollutants remains a challenge.
The team found that patterns of detection are similar for low-molecular-weight compounds and that attaching the wristbands to the backpack’s strap is a good sampling design for evaluating conditions under which wristbands could be used for quantifying PAHs in air.
The results of the study support that wristbands used as passive samplers may be helpful in future studies evaluating adverse health outcomes from prenatal PAH exposure.