Interest in assessing dermal exposure continues to increase because of growing awareness of the extent of the problem. Exposures to chemicals in the workplace continue to rank as a leading cause of illness and death in the United States, resulting in an estimated 60,000 deaths and more than 800,000 illnesses each year. Since the first recommendations of Threshold Limit Values in the mid-1930s, and later with the legally enforceable Permissible Exposure Values, emphasis in occupational hygiene has been primarily on measuring and controlling airborne exposures to chemicals. However, many chemicals in the workplace are primarily present as surface contaminants, coming in contact with the worker through transfer to the skin. As inhalation exposures come under better control in the workplace, the relative contribution from skin exposures becomes increasingly important. In addition to the potential, of skin contamination and risk of systemic illness, occupational dermatitis remains the single most common illness resulting from chemical exposures. Yet there remains a relatively poor understanding of how to evaluate skin exposures, how to estimate risk and, most important, how to prevent exposures. Fortunately, there is growing support both nationally and internationally in regard to occupational skin exposure assessment and prevention. In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has recently provided multiyear funding of a Dermal Exposure Research Program, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has posted much skin exposure assessment guidance information on its website and has targeted inspections for determining the extent of occupational dermal exposure. In Europe, the recently formed multinational "RISKOFDERM" program has begun research in dermal exposure, and much useful information should be forthcoming from each of these activities. Joop van Hemmen, head of the Department of Chemical Exposure Assessment at TNO, The Netherlands, and head of the RISKOFDERM program, said this research program includes 15 European partners in 10 countries and comprises four interrelated parts: 1. A qualitative survey to obtain an overview of relevant tasks, processes and determinants relevant for dermal exposure; 2. A quantitative survey to obtain detailed data on dern1al exposure and determinants; 3. Exposure model building to create a predictive dermal exposure model using all relevant variables; and 4. Development of a risk assessment and management toolkit based on relevant data on hazard, absorption into the body, dermal exposure potential and effectiveness of control measures. This toolkit is primarily meant to be used by small- and medium-sized establishments.
Dermatology; Dermatitis; Skin-exposure; Skin-irritants; Skin-disorders; Skin-diseases; Skin-protection; Occupational-diseases; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Chemical-reactions; Chemical-burns; Chemical-analysis; Risk-analysis; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Exposure-assessment; Qualitative-analysis; Quantitative-analysis; Worker-health; Work-environment; Ergonomics; Contact-dermatitis