NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Particle penetration of the skin as a route of sensitization in occupational lung disease.

Tinkle SS; Antonini JM; Abrigo BA; Adkins EJ; Roberts JR
Toxicologist 2000 Mar; 54(1):149
Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD) is an occupationally-acquired lung disease that begins as a cell-mediated immune response to beryllium particulates that, over time, results in development of non-caseating granulomas. During the last ten years, the beryllium industry has made major improvements in respiratory protection and engineering control technology design, however, the rate of disease has not declined. We hypothesized that dermal exposure to beryllium particulates, coupled with joint motion, as at the wrist, would provide an alternative route for sensitization to beryllium. To test this hypothesis, 400 - 600 micron thick sections of human skin (n = 8) were applied to a flexing device with surgical glue. The integrity of the stratum corneum was verified with the NOVA DPM, and 100 ul of 0.5, 1 or 4 micron FITC-conjugated dextran beads were applied to the surface of the skin. The skin was subjected to repeated 30 degree flexure for 0, 15, 30 or 60 minutes. Control tissues were not flexed. Following treatment, tissues were fixed, cut in 20 micron thick sections, and mounted on slides in cross-section. Penetration of beads into the skin was evaluated at 1 micron intervals by laser scanning confocal microscopy. To verify that bead penetration occurred through the stratum corneum, we evaluated data between 5 and 15 microns only. We documented 0.5 and 1 micron bead penetration into the epidermis and the dermis in flexed samples, but not non-flexed tissues. Although not quantitative, only a very small percentage of beads was observed in the skin, and there was no clear time-dependence associated with penetration. Four micron beads did not penetrate the skin. These data suggest that particle penetration of the skin is a potential route of exposure in dusty work environments.
Sensitization; Occupational diseases; Lung disease; Beryllium disease; Immune reaction; Beryllium compounds; Particulates; Respiratory protection; Engineering controls; Respiratory system disorders; Pulmonary system disorders; Occupational exposure; Exposure levels; Skin disorders; Work environment; Dusts; Dust particles; Dust sampling
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Source Name
The Toxicologist. Society of Toxicology 39th Annual Meeting, March 19-23, 2000, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division