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Toxicol Ind Health. 2005 Mar;21(1-2):1-14.

Percutaneous absorption of arsenic from environmental media.

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  • 1Exponent, 4940 Pearl East Circle, Suite 300, Boulder, CO 80301, USA.


Current knowledge of percutaneous absorption of arsenic is based on studies of rhesus monkeys using soluble arsenic in aqueous solution, and soluble arsenic mixed with soil (Wester et al., 1993). These studies produced mean dermal absorption rates in the range of 2.0-6.4% of the applied dose. Subsequently, questions arose as to whether these results represent arsenic absorption from environmental media. Factors such as chemical interactions, the presence of other metals, and the effects of weathering on environmental media all can affect the nature of arsenic and its potential for percutaneous absorption. Therefore, research specific to more relevant matrices is important. The focus of this effort is to outline study design considerations, including particle size, application rates, means of ensuring skin contact and appropriate statistical evaluation of the data. Appropriate reference groups are also important. The potential for background exposure to arsenic in the diet possibly obscuring a signal from a dermally applied dose of arsenic will also be addressed. We conclude that there are likely to be many site- or sample-specific factors that will control the absorption of arsenic, and matrix-specific analyses may be required to understand the degree of percutaneous absorption.

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