The Chemical World Surrounding Us

And now there is a way to really know the details, as reported by this article from Fast Company.

An excerpt.

We tend to blame bad genes for breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, but few diseases are purely genetic. The “exposome”—all the things we’re exposed to throughout our lives—often plays a bigger role than DNA. That includes the obvious, like diet and exercise, but also factors that are harder to track, like the chemicals that surround us.

A new wearable called MyExposome is designed to reveal which chemicals are actually part of your everyday life. Strap on the wristband for a week, and it absorbs chemicals—from pesticides to flame retardants—along with you. At the end of the week, you mail it back to a lab to learn about the invisible part of your world.

It looks like a typical plastic Livestrong wristband, but uses a special material designed to suck up chemicals. “It’s porous, like a sponge,” says Marc Epstein, CEO of MyExposome. “There’s lots of space for it to absorb things from the environment. It soaks up what’s around it, whether you’re swimming, showering, or walking down the street.”

It can’t track every single chemical—something you eat, for example, won’t show up unless it happens to be excreted through your pores. “I didn’t spill coffee on myself, but I can tell you that my bracelet measured very, very high for caffeine,” says Epstein. “That’s one of the chemicals you actually can sweat out in your pores.”

The lab analyzes each wristband for more than 1,400 different chemicals, from pesticides to endocrine disrupters, volatile organic compounds, and combustion byproducts. The focus was on chemicals that research suggests may pose a concern, or that the people they surveyed most wanted to know about.

After learning what’s around you, you may decide to make some changes. “I found it useful to find out what I was being exposed to,” Epstein says. “In my environment, there were flame retardants and pesticides, and I learned that I’m not sufficiently careful when I put flea medicine on my dog. I think you can’t change what don’t know.”

The company plans to also look for broader patterns in the data, such as which chemicals are most common in certain neighborhoods or across the country. “Right now, we don’t know how exposures differ in San Francisco versus New York, inner cities or suburbs, schools, or factories,” he says. “We don’t have a pattern of what’s normal, whether it’s safe or not.”

Retrieved July 14, 2015 from



About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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