While our awareness that potentially harmful chemicals lurk unseen in our environment may have grown, most of us still have no idea these substances might be or whether we are exposed to them. A bracelet called MyExposome is designed to answer that question by helping determine exactly which chemicals we’re exposed to during everyday life.
The MyExposome bracelet is based on technology originally developed at Oregon State University. The lightweight, nondescript bracelet is made of specially prepared silicone designed to absorb chemicals around it in the same way your body does.
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The idea is that you keep the bracelet on for one week, then mail it to a lab where tests will be conducted to see which chemicals it has been exposed to.
The tests cover more than 1,400 chemicals, including pesticides and organic compounds (MyExposome has published the full list). The focus is on chemicals that may pose a concern to human health or that people surveyed by the company most wanted to know about.
Of course, the bracelet will not measure every chemical that the user is exposed to. For example, it won’t detect if the user ingests a chemical in their food, unless it is excreted through their pores, as can be the case when it comes to caffeine.
This information will be presented to the user in a report showing these chemicals and a comparison to other participants. Details of how this report will look are still being worked on, but at this stage they will not include any indication of exposure levels, just which chemicals are detected.
"We created this company to bring the ability to know your chemical exposure to the general public,” says MyExposome CEO Marc Epstein. "Right now the scientific community is using this technology to monitor chemical exposure in segmented groups. We wanted to bring this cutting edge technology to the individual—to make the invisible visible."
It’s important to note that testing the bracelet isn’t as easy as simply popping it into a machine that spits out the results. Each wristband has to be processed manually, and the results interpreted by experts to correctly determine which chemicals the bracelet was exposed to.
That takes a lot of time, effort, and money.
The company has turned to Kickstarter in an effort to get the project rolling and a pledge of US$995 is required to put you in line for the standard 1400 chemical test (tests covering flame-retardant exposure costs an extra $500). If all goes well MyExposome plans to start shipping the bands in September. Eventually, the company hopes that increased demand will drive down the cost.
The MyExposome Kickstarter pitch is below.