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Issues in Understanding Dermal Exposures Resulting from Contact With Contaminated Surfaces, Measuring Surface Contamination, and Characterizing Transfers

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Abstract: Although monitoring for surface contamination in work with radioactive materials and dermal monitoring of pesticide exposure to agricultural workers have been standard practice for 50 years, regular surface sampling and dermal monitoring methods have only been applied to industrial and residential contamination since the 1980s. In recent years, there have been significant advances in the tools available to measure and assess dermal exposures resulting from contacts with contaminated surfaces. However, there are still important gaps in our understanding of the determinants of this type of dermal exposure and how best to measure and assess the exposure. To identify the major uncertainties associated with quantifying dermal exposures resulting from contact with contaminated surfaces it is useful to consider the pathways and mechanisms for these exposures. Transfer of contaminants from a contaminated surface to the skin is a function of: (1) the form of the contamination (residue, particle, formulation, age, physicochemical properties); (2) characteristics of the surface (hard, plush, porous, surface loading, previous transfer); (3) characteristics of the skin (moisture, age, loading, previous transfer); (4) contact mechanics (pressure, duration, smudge, repetition); and (5) environmental conditions (temperature, relative humidity, air exchange). In addition, human behaviors in both occupational and non-occupational settings represent an important determinant of exposure that adds significant variability to estimates of dermal exposure. In this presentation, important data gaps associated with the mechanisms of transfer from contaminated surfaces will be identified. In addition, our current approaches for characterizing and assessing dermal exposure resulting from contact with contaminated surfaces in both residential and occupational environments, as well as the research needed to move the state-of-the-science forward, will be considered.

This work has been funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It has been subjected to Agency review and approved for publication.
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Citation:Cohenhubal, E. A. Issues in Understanding Dermal Exposures Resulting from Contact With Contaminated Surfaces, Measuring Surface Contamination, and Characterizing Transfers. Presented at International Conference on Occupational and Environmental Exposures of the Skin, Arlington, VA, September 8-11, 2002.
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Human Exposure Analysis Branch
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Product Type: Abstrct/Oral
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Presented: 09/08/2002
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