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Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 1999 Apr;14(4):231-9.

Transfer of contaminants from surface to hands: experimental assessment of linearity of the exposure process, adherence to the skin, and area exposed during fixed pressure and repeated contact with surfaces contaminated with a powder.

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Department of Chemical Exposure Assessment, TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, The Netherlands.


Estimation of dermal exposure in the workplace resulting from contact with contaminated surfaces is important in risk assessment. Models have been developed to describe the process of exposure due to transfer, but for major input parameters--that is, contact area surface and adherence--defaults are used. This study examines the effect of one single-hand press contact and repeated contacts with a contaminated glass plate on both skin area exposed and loading of the skin for three volunteers. A fluorescent whitening agent was used to study the process of exposure and to determine the increase of the area exposed as well as the adherence of the compound to the skin surface after 1 to 12 consecutive contacts by a video imaging technique. In addition, loading of the skin after 12 contacts was compared to loading of a cotton glove monitor with similar hand pressures. The results show that after one single-hand contact only 4 to 16 percent of the total surface of the palm of the hand was exposed, whereas after 12 contacts this was increased to about 40 percent. The efficiency of transfer was < or = 2 percent of the contamination of the surface. The adherence to the skin was 1.07 micrograms/cm2 after 12 contacts and tended to increase non-linearly with increase in contacts. Because defaults of adherence for use in exposure models are generally a factor 500 to 5,000 higher, and the area exposed is assumed to be the total surface of the hand, overestimation of dermal exposure due to a single hand-surface contact in workplaces may occur. Therefore, additional studies on multi-contact exposure scenarios are indicated to adjust defaults for hand-surface transfer processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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