Dermal Diseases: Program Description

figure with microscope of cells, fumes

Dermal Diseases

Input: Program Description

More than 13 million workers in the United States are potentially exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. A worker’s skin may be exposed to hazardous chemicals through direct contact with contaminated surfaces, deposition of aerosols, immersion, or splashes. The harmful exposure of a worker’s skin to toxic chemicals may result in adverse health impacts including systemic effects and/or localized skin injuries. Contact dermatitis is one of the most common chemically induced occupational illnesses, accounting for 10% to 15% of all occupational illnesses at an estimated annual cost of at least $1 billion.

To advance our understanding on the occupational skin diseases and the strategies of exposure control and prevention, NIOSH Immune, Dermal and Infectious Diseases Program supports laboratory and field investigations and the development of scientifically based recommendations to promote safe and healthful working conditions. Significant NIOSH efforts in these areas include:

  • Publication of NIOSH skin notations as a part of Recommended Exposure Limits to alert the workers, employers, industrial hygienists, occupational health specialists and risk assessors to the presence of dermal exposure hazards in the workplace;
  • An intramural Dermal Exposure Research Program beginning in 2000 as funded by the National Occupational Research Agenda. The overall goal of the Program is to promote the development of improved NIOSH policies and recommendations for identifying and controlling harmful exposure of the skin to chemicals;
  • The formation of NIOSH-Stakeholder Joint Workgroup on Skin Notations in 2005 to facilitate the exchange of scientific information for improving skin notations. The workgroup is a collaborative effort between NIOSH scientists and stakeholders of relevant expertise to evaluate the potential toxicity of industrial chemicals resulting from occupational skin exposures and to exchange findings with the Immune, Dermal & Infectious Diseases Program for improving skin notations and processes of dermal exposure recognition.


Page last reviewed: December 18, 2012