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Patterns of Dermal Exposure to Hazardous Substances in European Union Workplaces

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Author: Rajan-Sithamparanadarajah, R. · Roff, M. · Delgado, P. · Eriksson, K. · Fransman, W. · Gijsbers, J.H.J. · Hughson, G. · Mäkinen, M. · Hemmen, J.J. van
Institution: TNO Voeding
Source:Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 3, 48, 285-297
Identifier: 237703
doi: doi:10.1093/annhyg/meh025
Keywords: Health Chemistry Ergonomics · Food and Chemical Risk Analysis · Dip coating · Manual dispersion · Patch sampling · Spray dispersion · Dermatitis · Exposure controls · Hazardous materials · Quality assurance · Skin · Bayesian approach · Dermal exposure · Exposure routes · Occupational risks · anthropometry · dangerous goods · Europe · quality control · European Union · Hand · Hazardous Substances · Humans · Industry · Occupational Exposure · Occupations · Patch Tests · Population Surveillance · Risk Assessment · Skin · Workplace


Workplace dermal exposure assessment is a complex task that aims to understand the dynamic interaction between the skin and the hazardous substances present in the surrounding environment. A European project known as RISKOFDERM gathered dermal exposure data in 85 workplaces (industrial and other types) in five countries in Europe. In order to optimize data collection and to develop a representative picture of dermal exposure, scenarios (tasks made up of a series of activities) were grouped together into dermal exposure operation units (DEOs). The allocation of scenarios to relevant DEOs was achieved on the basis of similarities of exposure routes, tasks and professional judgement. Sampling and quantification procedures were based on the approaches recommended by the OECD protocol. The laboratories involved in the analysis of the samples participated in quality assurance programmes. This exercise resulted in 419 body measurements and 437 measurements on hands expressed in terms of formulation (product) in use. Exposures for a given scenario varied by several orders of magnitude. The extent and patterns of exposure were found to be dependent on various exposure determinants, including inter- and intra-scenario variations. Hands were found to be the most contaminated parts of the body. Exposure patterns for liquid and solid contaminants were different. On the basis of the analysis of the data presented here, the averaged results (median and 95th percentile) for a given DEO unit should not be used as a representative measure of dermal exposure for all scenarios within that DEO without taking the exposure determinants into account. However, the data could be used to develop an exposure matrix (indicative exposure distributions) for different types of scenario and workplace, using determinants of exposure and a Bayesian approach to integrating expert opinion.