Since our citizen science project went live, we have received dozens of questions. We have summarized those questions here by topic. Click on the topic area you are interested in to see a drop-down listing of questions. Click on the question to see the answer. Don’t see the answer to your question? Email us at citizen.science@oregonstate.edu
Answer: 

Citizen Science is a term that broadly describes public participation in science research. For more information about citizen science, check out these resources:

EPREP (6)

Answer: 

There will be studies that are no-cost, low-cost studies, as well as studies that will be funded by citizen scientists. To see what studies are currently recruiting as well as the requirements for eligibility, go to our Recruitment page. This page lists all active studies.

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No. EPREP is open to everyone.

Answer: 

You do need to be at least 18 to participate.

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No! As you complete each online training module, you will be able to track your training. When you have successfully completed the training, you will receive a certificate, and your online account will then allow you to sign up for studies, or propose your own study.

Answer: 

Check out our Recruitment page in summer 2015. This is where we will add studies that are actively recruiting.

Answer: 

In order to understand the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis, we need to know what chemicals we are exposed to. By building a database of chemical exposure we can begin to understand the different types of chemicals people are exposed to, and how different environments (work, home, etc.) may contribute to our chemical exposures.

Answer: 

The wristbands are made of silicone, and are like the silicone wristbands often sold by charity groups to raise awareness for a cause. The wristbands go through a cleaning process to remove background contaminants and then we add reference compounds to help us with the analysis once the wristband has been worn and returned.

Answer: 

You wear the wristband like you wear a bracelet. It can be worn outside, in the shower, while cooking food, sleeping, etc. We do ask that you avoid applying lotion or personal care products to the wristband. Watch our video “The Passive Sampling Wristband” to learn more. 

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Pick it up and put it back on! We will provide a form with the wristband where you can document any direct spills or drops onto wristband.

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Yes! The wristband can detect indoor and outdoor air quality.

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Depending on the damage (small tear, etc.), you may still be able to wear it without harming the ability of the wristband to sequester chemicals. Give your study coordinator a call and they will be able to advise you.

Answer: 

The wristband is sensitive enough to detect measureable levels of chemicals in a few hours. You can also wear the wristband for an entire week to get an average weekly exposure.

Answer: 

For the wristband to work, it must have access to the air, and should not be covered beneath your clothing. If your work requires long sleeves/gloves that cover up the wristband, the wristband can be pinned to your shirt during work hours but should be worn as a wristband the rest of the time. We do have a lapel configuration, as shown here. 

Answer: 

The color does not matter. Currently we have many colors: solid orange, solid orange-and-white, swirled orange-and-white, white, clear, bright green, pink, dark green, black, white-and-blue. (Pink not pictured)

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Yes! We also have passive water and sediment samplers as shown here. Learn more at the Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship Program website.

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We have used the stationary air samplers for one week, up to several months. The sampler works by telling you the average air quality over the sampling period, so you can choose the time period that helps you best answer your question. 

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The sampling box is designed to keep rain and dirt away from the sampler, but rain and water will not wash away the chemicals. The chemicals are actually bound inside the sampling material, not sitting on the surface.

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No! Although we have heard that sheep like to rub up against the sampling box.

Answer: 

We work with a machinist to create these boxes. They are built to withstand inclement weather, and to last for years. These sampling boxes can be purchased through EPREP. You also have the choice of creating your own box (see instructions). This is a more cost-effective option and gives you the choice of designing it to fit your specific research needs.

Answer: 

We call this ‘saturation.’ We have tested the samplers in highly contaminated environments for 30 days, and did not see evidence of saturation. It is highly unlikely that the samplers would be saturated, but the samplers could reach equilibrium, that is, be at the same concentration as the air. However, even at equilibrium, the sampler will be able to detect changes in the chemical concentration, and will accurately reflect the average concentrations.

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Yes! Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are associated with unconventional natural gas drilling, and we have used our samplers to detect these chemicals. Read more about our work in Ohio here.

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Yes! Vehicle exhaust contains many different chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which the passive samplers detect. Watch our video “The Passive Sampling Wristband” to learn more.

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The passive samplers cannot detect mold, mildew, radon, lead or carbon monoxide. They will be able to detect certain gaseous chemicals found in cleaning solutions and paint fumes. 

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Yes, we can detect certain pesticides and fertilizers, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the smoke from field burning. 

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We can detect chemical concentrations as low as 1 part per trillion (ppt) in the air. To put that in perspective, imagine the entire state of Indiana was covered in kitchen tile and each tile was 1 square foot. Imagine all those squares are orange, but one square is black. That is 1 part per trillion. We can detect higher concentrations as well, like parts per billion (ppb) and parts per million (ppm). 

Answer: 

We use a solvent extraction process to remove the chemicals from the wristband. After the extraction, the extract is analyzed to determine what chemicals were present in the sampler. 

Answer: 

We are primarily interested in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, because they are contaminants of concern at many polluted sites like Superfund sites. PAHs are also associated with urban pollution, from cars and coal burning, as well as crude oil spills and other chemical spills. Some PAHs are known or thought to cause cancer, while other PAHs are associated with other health issues. For example, phenanthrene is a PAH known to adversely affect lung function. Learn more about the chemicals we can evaluate, such as pesticides and flame retardants.

Answer: 

Please go to the Environmental Health Sciences Center website, where we have compiled several resources for K-12 students on the topic of environmental health.

Privacy (3)

Answer: 

Your results will be aggregated into a database, but your name and personal information will remain confidential. You, as an individual, will not be identifiable from the public data. You will receive your personal data via a report that will be either mailed to you, or accessible online with a confidential log-in.

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Your name and exact address will not be released. However, your data, your occupation and your general location will be aggregated in a large database. This way, we can compare chemical exposures between occupations, and between locations.

Answer: 

When you sign up for a study, you will know what chemicals are being tested. You will receive the full list of chemicals that were tested for, as well as the list of chemicals that were detected in your sampler. When possible, we will include reference data to help put your results in context. Here is an example of how we presented results to a recent study.

Funding (2)

Answer: 

Yes, we are interested in partnering with non-government organizations. Please email us at citizen.science@oregonstate.edu with “NGO” in the subject line. 

Answer: 

EPREP is a collaborative project between the Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship Program and the Environmental Health Sciences Center, which are funded by the State of Oregon and the National Institutes of Health.