Personal Exposures & Biomonitoring

Measuring contaminants in human tissues and assessing exposure using silicone wristbands

Studies suggest that people are exposed to more than a thousand man-made chemicals a day, through simple behaviors like eating, bathing, and applying make-up or sunscreen.   As a result, babies born today have a number of man-made chemicals in their bodies, and that number grows as the child develops.   Recent studies based on genetically identical twins also suggest that only 15-30% of human chronic disease can be explained by genetics, reinforcing the thought that the environment, and our behaviors, are playing a significant role in disease risk.  Therefore, it’s imperative that we start evaluating our exposure to multiple chemicals at one time. 

The Falk Foundation Environmental Exposomics Laboratory conducts research to evaluate individual’s exposure to mixtures of different chemicals.   Our laboratory routine analyzes samples of human urine and blood to measure contaminants such as polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) organophosphate plasticizers, and flame retardant chemicals, to support environmental health research.   We also use silicone wristbands to help monitor individuals’ exposure to over 100 different chemicals.   Silicone wristbands, similar to those commonly worn for fundraisers and birthday parties, provide an ideal sampling matrix for the ambient air.  Studies conducted by Dr. Stapleton’s group have demonstrated that the concentrations measured  on wristbands are significantly correlated with levels measured in blood and urine.   We believe that wristbands will help revolutionize the environmental health field, and provide a unique opportunity to more reliably measure individuals average exposure to hundreds of different chemicals, over time.