It’s no surprise that humans consume a large sum of chemicals on a daily basis. Whether it’s in the food we eat, the makeup we put on our face or the environmental toxins we breathe in, chemicals engulf us regularly.
This is why scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) have created a silicone wristband that detects chemical pollution in the person’s body, according to a report in the Portland Tribune. Essentially, a person who wears the silicone wristband can measure how much chemicals they’re exposed to on any given day.
The wristband is now being used in a study on pregnant women in their final trimester in New York City. The study is focusing on the effects of chemicals on infants after birth. Researchers are looking to learn about what exactly is causing birth defects and diseases by identifying certain chemicals.
In addition, OSU scientists have partnered with the National Institute of Environmental Science in allocating these wristbands in West Africa to examine the risks associated with pesticides and exposure effects to agricultural chemicals. The study (PDF) tested for nearly 1,200 compounds and discovered that wristband wearers were subjected to 49 different chemicals, including pesticides, phthalates, plasticizers, industrial compounds, consumer products and personal care chemicals.
Another initiative is to understand how sunlight and the shade affect the results. The university has recruited various roofers to study the effects of hot asphalt.
Recent media reports suggest that we’re being inundated with chemicals, especially in our environment.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Mercola.com, listed 10 of the most common environmental toxins that are ubiquitous in our air, food supply and water. They consisted of polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, mould, dioxins, asbestos, heavy metals, chloroform, chlorine phthalates and Volatile Organic Compounds.
A lot of chemicals can be found in the products we use, too. Bionsen, a natural deodorant company, made headlines when it found that the average woman applies 515 chemicals on her body every day. This is done through shampoo, hairspray, blusher, deodorant, lipstick and other makeup products.
Each nation has its own set of stringent laws for consumer protection. The cosmetic industry argued that its products are very safe. The Cosmetic Toiletries and Perfumery Association said in a statement:
“Stringent laws require all cosmetics to be safe, and each product undergoes a rigorous safety assessment. The number of ingredients in a product, or whether it is natural or man-made, has no bearing on how safe it is.”
The organization added that most chemicals that are present in products contain “safe doses” and can’t harm consumers. However, researchers have said one important question remains: how does one define the term “safe dose”?
How does one try avoiding chemicals? Most suggest for the average consumer to buy organic and local food items, use natural cleaning products, avoid artificial air fresheners, drink filtered water and never consume processed foods.
It was projected last year that United States chemical sales will reach $1 trillion within the next four years, according to a report by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) entitled “2013 Chemical Industry Situation and Outlook: American Chemistry is Back in the Game.” Research and development spending will increase to $68.7 billion by 2018.
“Following a decade of lost competitiveness, American chemistry is re-emerging as a growth industry,” the council stated in the report.