Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock () or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

InfoGram

Wristbands Track Firefighter Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Posted: June 9, 2022

Silicone wristband research helps determine on- and off-duty exposure to cancer-causing agents.

Recent research from Duke University involved firefighters wearing silicon wristbands on and off the job. The silicon absorbs any semi-volatile organic compounds the firefighters may have been exposed to.

The wristbands worn by firefighters were analyzed for 134 different chemical compounds, including phthalates, brominated flame retardants, organophosphate esters, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), all of which have been linked to increased incidence of certain cancers.

On duty versus off duty

  • In wristbands worn on duty, levels of PAH, brominated flame retardants and organophosphate esters were 0.5 to 8.5 times higher than in those worn while off duty.
  • Wristbands worn by firefighters on days they actively fought a fire contained 2.5 times more PFOS (a type of PFAS) than bands worn while off duty.
  • Wristbands worn on off-duty days contained higher levels of phthalates and pesticides.

The study demonstrated that silicone wristbands can be used to quantify occupational exposures for firefighters and distinguish these from non-occupational exposures. This is an important step in addressing the issue that, according to studies by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and other agencies, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from the disease than the general adult population.

Peer-reviewed findings from this study were published on April 26, 2022 in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

This article is based on content in the
June 9, 2022 InfoGram.

View the articles in this InfoGram.

Subscribe to the InfoGram

Explore more articles:

  • Filter:

Featured articles

Infogram
man with monkeypox blisters on his hands
Current Issues
2 firefighters marching in a Pride parade
InfoGram
monkeypox
Infogram
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti holds a vile of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination while LAFD firefighters receive the vaccine at Station 4 on Dec. 28.
Current Issues
photo of a man and a woman staring looking at their destroyed home
Current Issues
photo of a woman and man preparing a meal
Current Issues
storm clouds with houses in the foreground
Current Issues
pictograph illustrations
Coffee Break
community members meeting about wildfire projects
Coffee Break
firefighters talking
Current Issues
hoarded items in a home
Coffee Break
firefighters on hose line
Current Issues
home boarded up with clear board
Coffee Break
firefighter using a computer
Coffee Break
binary data with a question mark
Coffee Break
table made up of puzzle pieces
Coffee Break
Plato
Coffee Break
helicopter dropping water on a fire
Coffee Break
meeting of public policy makers
Coffee Break
firefighter addressing meeting