Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Characterizing the external exposome using passive samplers—comparative assessment of chemical exposures using different wearable form factors

Abstract

Background

Organic contaminants are released into the air from building materials/furnishings, personal care, and household products. Wearable passive samplers have emerged as tools to characterize personal chemical exposures. The optimal placement of these samplers on an individual to best capture airborne exposures has yet to be evaluated.

Objective

To compare personal exposure to airborne contaminants detected using wearable passive air samplers placed at different positions on the body.

Methods

Participants (n = 32) simultaneously wore four passive Fresh Air samplers, on their head, chest, wrist, and foot for 24 hours. Exposure to 56 airborne organic contaminants was evaluated using thermal desorption gas chromatography high resolution mass spectrometry with a targeted data analysis approach.

Results

Distinct exposure patterns were detected by samplers positioned on different parts of the body. Chest and wrist samplers were the most similar with correlations identified for 20% of chemical exposures (Spearman’s Rho > 0.8, p < 0.05). In contrast, the greatest differences were found for head and foot samplers with the weakest correlations across evaluated exposures (8% compounds, Spearman’s Rho > 0.8, p < 0.05).

Significance

The placement of wearable passive air samplers influences the exposures captured and should be considered in future exposure and epidemiological studies.

Impact statement

Traditional approaches for assessing personal exposure to airborne contaminants with active samplers presents challenges due to their cost, size, and weight.

Wearable passive samplers have recently emerged as a non-invasive, lower cost tool for measuring environmental exposures. While these samplers can be worn on different parts of the body, their position can influence the type of exposure that is captured. This study comprehensively evaluates the exposure to airborne chemical contaminants measured at different passive sampler positions worn on the head, chest, wrist, and foot. Findings provide guidance on sampler placement based on chemicals and emission sources of interest.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Design of the fresh air passive samplers for personal exposure assessment.
Fig. 2: Summary of chemical exposures detected by each wearable form across all study participants.
Fig. 3: Correlations across airborne contaminants detected by the four fresh air sampler worn by participants on the head, chest, wrist, and foot.
Fig. 4: Comparison of personal exposure to airborne contaminants detected between season and housing location.

Data availability

The dataset generated during and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

References

  1. Choi H, Perera F, Pac A, Wang L, Flak E, Mroz E, et al. Estimating Individual-Level Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons throughout the Gestational Period Based on Personal, Indoor, and Outdoor Monitoring. Environ Health Perspect. 2008;116:1509–18.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Koniecki D, Wang R, Moody RP, Zhu J. Phthalates in cosmetic and personal care products: Concentrations and possible dermal exposure. Environ Res. 2011;111:329–36.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Li A, Schoonover TM, Zou Q, Norlock F, Conroy LM, Scheff PA, et al. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in residential air of ten Chicago area homes: Concentrations and influencing factors. Atmos Environ. 2005;39:3491–501.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Phillips AL, Hammel SC, Hoffman K, Lorenzo AM, Chen A, Webster TF, et al. Children’s residential exposure to organophosphate ester flame retardants and plasticizers: Investigating exposure pathways in the TESIE study. Environ Int. 2018;116:176–85.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Wang S, Romanak KA, Stubbings WA, Arrandale VH, Hendryx M, Diamond ML, et al. Silicone wristbands integrate dermal and inhalation exposures to semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Environ Int. 2019;132:105104.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Choi H, Zdeb M, Perera F, Spengler J. Estimation of chronic personal exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Sci Total Environ. 2015;527-528:252–61.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Choi H, Spengler J. Source attribution of personal exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon mixture using concurrent personal, indoor, and outdoor measurements. Environ Int. 2014;63:173–81.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Weschler CJ, Nazaroff WW. Semivolatile organic compounds in indoor environments. Atmos Environ. 2008;42:9018–40.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Doherty BT, Koelmel JP, Lin EZ, Romano ME, Godri Pollitt KJ. Use of Exposomic Methods Incorporating Sensors in Environmental Epidemiology. Current Environmental. Health Rep. 2021;8:34–41.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Calafat AM, Needham LL. What additional factors beyond state-of-the-art analytical methods are needed for optimal generation and interpretation of biomonitoring data? Environ Health Perspect. 2009;117:1481–5.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Dixon HM, Scott RP, Holmes D, Calero L, Kincl LD, Waters KM, et al. Silicone wristbands compared with traditional polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure assessment methods. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2018;410:3059–71.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Zabiegała B, Kot-Wasik A, Urbanowicz M, Namieśnik J. Passive sampling as a tool for obtaining reliable analytical information in environmental quality monitoring. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2010;396:273–96.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Bartkow ME, Hawker DW, Kennedy KE, Müller JF. Characterizing Uptake Kinetics of PAHs from the Air Using Polyethylene-Based Passive Air Samplers of Multiple Surface Area-to-Volume Ratios. Environ Sci Technol. 2004;38:2701–6.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Desmet K, De Coensel N, Górecki T, Sandra P. Profiling the spatial concentration of allethrin and piperonyl butoxide using passive sorptive sampling and thermal desorption capillary GC–MS. Chemosphere. 2008;71:2193–8.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Jo S-H, Kim K-H, Kwon K. The combined effects of sampling parameters on the sorbent tube sampling of phthalates in air. Sci Rep. 2017;7:45677.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Kenessov B, Sailaukhanuly Y, Koziel JA, Carlsen L. Nauryzbayev M GC–MS and GC–NPD Determination of Formaldehyde Dimethylhydrazone in Water Using SPME. Chromatographia. 2011;73:123–8.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Magnusson R, Arnoldsson K, Lejon C, Hägglund L, Wingfors H. Field evaluation and calibration of a small axial passive air sampler for gaseous and particle bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and oxygenated PAHs. Environ Pollut. 2016;216:235–44.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Okeme JO, Yang C, Abdollahi A, Dhal S, Harris SA, Jantunen LM, et al. Passive air sampling of flame retardants and plasticizers in Canadian homes using PDMS, XAD-coated PDMS and PUF samplers. Environ Pollut. 2018;239:109–17.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Paschke H, Popp P. New passive samplers for chlorinated semivolatile organic pollutants in ambient air. Chemosphere. 2005;58:855–63.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Paulik LB, Hobbie KA, Rohlman D, Smith BW, Scott RP, Kincl L, et al. Environmental and individual PAH exposures near rural natural gas extraction. Environ Pollut. 2018;241:397–405.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Schäfer RB, Hearn L, Kefford BJ, Mueller JF, Nugegoda D. Using silicone passive samplers to detect polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from wildfires in streams and potential acute effects for invertebrate communities. Water Res. 2010;44:4590–600.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Gaga EO, Harner T, Dabek-Zlotorzynska E, Celo V, Evans G, Jeong C-H, et al. Polyurethane Foam (PUF) Disk Samplers for Measuring Trace Metals in Ambient Air. Environ Sci Technol Lett. 2019;6:545–50.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Lin EZ, Esenther S, Mascelloni M, Irfan F, Godri Pollitt KJ. The Fresh Air Wristband: A Wearable Air Pollutant Sampler. Environ Sci Technol Lett. 2020;7:308–14.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Okeme JO, Nguyen LV, Lorenzo M, Dhal S, Pico Y, Arrandale VH, et al. Polydimethylsiloxane (silicone rubber) brooch as a personal passive air sampler for semi-volatile organic compounds. Chemosphere. 2018;208:1002–7.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hammel SC, Phillips AL, Hoffman K, Stapleton HM. Evaluating the Use of Silicone Wristbands To Measure Personal Exposure to Brominated Flame Retardants. Environ Sci Technol. 2018;52:11875–85.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. Koelmel JP, Lin EZ, Nichols A, Guo P, Zhou Y, Godri Pollitt KJ. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Placement of Wearable Passive Samplers Alters Exposure Profiles Observed. Environ Sci Technol. 2021;55:3796–806.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Patterson RE, Kirpich AS, Koelmel JP, Kalavalapalli S, Morse AM, Cusi K, et al. Improved experimental data processing for UHPLC–HRMS/MS lipidomics applied to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Metabolomics 2017;13:142.

  28. Guo Y, Kannan KA. Survey of Phthalates and Parabens in Personal Care Products from the United States and Its Implications for Human Exposure. Environ Sci Technol. 2013;47:14442–9.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Weschler CJ, Salthammer T, Fromme H. Partitioning of phthalates among the gas phase, airborne particles and settled dust in indoor environments. Atmos Environ. 2008;42:1449–60.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Di-n-octyl Phthalate. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 1997.

  31. Tran TM, Kannan K. Occurrence of phthalate diesters in particulate and vapor phases in indoor air and implications for human exposure in Albany, New York, USA. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2015;68:489–99.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Duan X, Wang B, Zhao X, Shen G, Xia Z, Huang N, et al. Personal inhalation exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban and rural residents in a typical northern city in China. Indoor Air. 2014;24:464–73.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Du W, Li X, Chen Y, Shen G. Household air pollution and personal exposure to air pollutants in rural China - A review. Environ Pollut. 2018;237:625–38.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Svecova V, Topinka J, Solansky I, Rossner P Jr., Sram RJ. Personal exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the Czech Republic. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2013;23:350–5.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Liu Y, Tao S, Yang Y, Dou H, Yang Y, Coveney RM. Inhalation exposure of traffic police officers to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during the winter in Beijing, China. Sci Total Environ. 2007;383:98–105.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Manzano CA, Dodder NG, Hoh E, Morales R. Patterns of Personal Exposure to Urban Pollutants Using Personal Passive Samplers and GC x GC/ToF-MS. Environ Sci Technol. 2019;53:614–24.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Dixon HM, Armstrong G, Barton M, Bergmann AJ, Bondy M, Halbleib ML, et al. Discovery of common chemical exposures across three continents using silicone wristbands. Royal Society Open. Science. 2019;6:181836.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  38. Kameda T. Atmospheric Chemistry of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Related Compounds. J Health Sci. 2011;57:504–11.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Kuo C-Y, Chien P-S, Kuo W-C, Wei C-T, Rau J-Y. Comparison of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions on gasoline- and diesel-dominated routes. Environ Monit Assess. 2013;185:5749–61.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Yadav IC, Devi NL, Zhong G, Li J, Zhang G, Covaci A. Occurrence and fate of organophosphate ester flame retardants and plasticizers in indoor air and dust of Nepal: Implication for human exposure. Environ Pollut. 2017;229:668–78.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Whitehead TP, Metayer C, Park JS, Does M, Buffler PA, Rappaport SM. Levels of nicotine in dust from homes of smokeless tobacco users. Nicotine Tob Res. 2013;15:2045–52.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Hoh E, Hunt RN, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, Chatfield DA, Wittry BC, et al. Environmental tobacco smoke as a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in settled household dust. Environ Sci Technol. 2012;46:4174–83.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Clawson AH, Ruppe NM, Nwankwo CN, Blair AL Profiles of Nicotine and Cannabis Exposure among Young Adults with Asthma. Behav Med. 2020;1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/08964289.2020.1763904.

  44. Brandhorst TT, Klein BS. Uncertainty surrounding the mechanism and safety of the post-harvest fungicide fludioxonil. Food Chem Toxicol. 2019;123:561–5.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Li C, Fu J, Sheng G, Bi X, Hao Y, Wang X, et al. Vertical distribution of PAHs in the indoor and outdoor PM2.5 in Guangzhou, China. Build Environ. 2005;40:329–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Langer S, Bekö G. Indoor air quality in the Swedish housing stock and its dependence on building characteristics. Build Environ. 2013;69:44–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Angel DM, Gao D, DeLay K, Lin EZ, Eldred J, Arnold W, et al. Development and Application of a Polydimethylsiloxane-Based Passive Air Sampler to Assess Personal Exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Environ Sci Technol Lett. 2022;9:153–9.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank participants for taking part in the study. Funding for this work was received from the Yale School of Public Health.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

EZL designed the study, deployed and collected samples, prepared and analyzed samples, conducted statistical analysis, drafted and revised the manuscript. AN and YZ deployed and collected samples. JPK provided feedback during data analysis and revised the manuscript. KJGP conceived and designed the study, provided feedback throughout sample collection, sample and data analysis, and drafted and revised the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Krystal J. Godri Pollitt.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lin, E.Z., Nichols, A., Zhou, Y. et al. Characterizing the external exposome using passive samplers—comparative assessment of chemical exposures using different wearable form factors. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00456-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00456-3

Keywords

  • Personal exposure
  • Analytical methods
  • Exposomics
  • Inhalation exposure
  • Flame retardants
  • Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Search

Quick links