10 people and chemicals in their midst

New wristband technology detects chemical exposures in everyday life

cyclist wearing chemical-sensing wristband

This woman is wearing a chemical-detecting wristband, technology we asked 10 people to wear for a week.


We're exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals daily – in everything from clothes to lotions to couches – putting our health at risk. Yet, scientists know surprisingly little about these exposures.

EDF engaged 10 people across the country to wear a novel wristband technology designed to detect chemicals in their environment for one week.

We detected 26 potentially harmful chemicals – including a highly toxic pesticide banned in the 1980s.

Every participant came into contact with at least five phthalates – chemicals commonly added to plastics and used in cosmetics, personal care products, adhesives and household cleaners.

Our 10 participants and what we found

Participant: Gordon
 
 

Name:
Gordon

Profession:
Firefighter

Generation:
Baby boomer

Location:
Memphis, Tennessee

Background: Gordon is a lieutenant for the Memphis Fire Department. His wristband detected a banned pesticide.

Read more about Gordon

Gordon's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 6
  • Fragrances: 2
  • Flame retardants: 1
  • Pesticides: 3
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 3

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Arsany
 
 

Name:
Arsany

Profession:
Pharmacy student

Generation:
Generation Z

Location:
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Background: Arsany is a graduate pharmacy student at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (Rutgers University). Among other chemicals, his wristband detected the flame retardants TPP and TCPP.

Read more about Arsany

Arsany's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 6
  • Fragrances: 3
  • Flame retardants: 2
  • Pesticides: 1
  • Preservatives: 2
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Star
 
 

Name:
Star

Profession:
Green Labs Program coordinator

Generation:
Generation X

Location:
Athens, Georgia

Background: Star is a former chemical safety specialist who spearheaded the University of Georgia's Green Labs Program.

Read more about Star

Star's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 7
  • Fragrances: 2
  • Flame retardants: 1
  • Pesticides: 2
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Christina
 
 

Name:
Christina

Profession:
Zookeeper

Generation:
Millennial

Location:
El Paso, Texas

Background: Christina is a zookeeper who spends her days in the Africa exhibit of the El Paso Zoo.

Read more about Christina

Christina's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 6
  • Fragrances: 1
  • Flame retardants: 0
  • Pesticides: 3
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Misha
 
 

Name:
Misha

Profession:
Retired physician

Generation:
Baby boomer

Location:
Los Angeles, California

Background: Misha is a retired family medical doctor, who now spends much of his time outdoors hiking.

Read more about Misha

Misha's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 6
  • Fragrances: 2
  • Flame retardants: 0
  • Pesticides: 1
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 2

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Karen
 
 

Name:
Karen

Profession:
Middle school science teacher

Generation:
Generation X

Location:
Boulder, Colorado

Background: Karen is an 8th grade science teacher who engages her students in citizen science projects like measuring air pollutants using portable air monitors.

Read more about Karen

Karen's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 6
  • Fragrances: 1
  • Flame retardants: 2
  • Pesticides: 0
  • Preservatives: 0
  • Combustion by-products: 2
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Josh
 
 

Name:
Josh

Profession:
Airport valet

Generation:
Millennial

Location:
Indianapolis, Indiana

Background: Josh works in an airport parking garage in Indianapolis and works on his truck during his free time.

Read more about Josh

Josh's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 6
  • Fragrances: 1
  • Flame retardants: 2
  • Pesticides: 3
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Averi
 
 

Name:
Averi

Profession:
College student

Generation:
Generation Z

Location:
Wooster, Ohio

Background: Averi is a student at The College of Wooster, currently doing her senior research project on sustainable interior design.

Read more about Averi

Averi's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 5
  • Fragrances: 1
  • Flame retardants: 1
  • Pesticides: 1
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Kim
 
 

Name:
Kim

Profession:
Law enforcement dispatcher

Generation:
Millennial

Location:
Helena, Montana

Background: Kim is a dispatcher living in a small town in Montana. She was eight months pregnant while wearing the chemical-detecting wristband.

Read more about Kim

Kim's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 5
  • Fragrances: 1
  • Flame retardants: 0
  • Pesticides: 0
  • Preservatives: 1
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 2

Hover over a chemical group name for more information


Participant: Sheena
 
 

Name:
Sheena

Profession:
Artist

Generation:
Baby boomer

Location:
Taos, New Mexico

Background: Sheena lives in the high desert of New Mexico, where she creates ceramic works of art, drawing on her Celtic heritage.

Read more about Sheena

Sheena's chemical profile

  • Plasticizers: 5
  • Fragrances: 0
  • Flame retardants: 0
  • Pesticides: 0
  • Preservatives: 0
  • Combustion by-products: 0
  • Other: 0

Hover over a chemical group name for more information

What can you do?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays a critical role in understanding the impacts of chemical exposure and protecting public health. Unfortunately, President Trump wants to cut EPA's by 31% and dismantle critical health protections.