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Short-Term Dermal Absorption and Penetration of Chemicals from Aqueous Solutions: Theory and Experiment

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Dermal penetration of organic chemical-contaminated water from showering and bathing scenarios is a concern of regulatory agencies that have been tasked with determining safe exposure levels. During household showering and bathing, nearly the entire surface area of the body is exposed for short periods of time (5 – 15 minutes). The primary means of predicting body burden during brief exposures is to estimate total chemical penetrated from the steady-state penetration rate using a skin permeability coefficient. A variety of approaches has been recommended to estimate “body burden.” The purpose of this investigation was to collect experimental data from short-term exposures to an organic chemical (dibromomethane [DBM]) in aqueous solution so that methods for estimating body burden could be compared. Rat skins were exposed in vitro to saturated aqueous solutions of DBM for 20 minutes and the amount of chemical in the receptor solution and the skin was analyzed. The total DBM mass in the receptor solution and the skin was taken to represent an in vivo body burden. These results were compared with the estimates of penetration from steady-state calculations, square root of time calculations, and a biologically based mathematical model. Results indicated that the amount of chemical in the skin and its fate during short exposures is important. The square root of time approach predicted total amount of chemical absorbed and penetrated better than did the steady-state approach. The biologically based mathematical model accurately predicted total body burden and could be used to distinguish between the amount of chemical in the skin and the amount of chemical that penetrated through the skin, which would be useful for understanding local toxicity.
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Keywords: Dermal penetration; aqueous solutions; bathing; dibromomethane; mathematical models; permeability coefficient; risk assessment; showering

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Operational Toxicology, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio., 2: Toxicology Detachment, Naval Medical Research Institute, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Publication date: 2001-08-01

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