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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016 Feb;74:31-3. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2015.11.014. Epub 2015 Nov 24.

Transdermal nicotine absorption handling e-cigarette refill liquids.

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Department of Clinical and Biological Science, University of Torino, Via Zuretti 29, 10126 Torino, Italy. Electronic address:
City of Health and Science Hospital, Corso Bramante 80, 10126 Torino, Italy.
Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Trieste, Via Giorgeri 1, 34127 Trieste, Italy.
Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Trieste, Via della Pietà 19, 34129 Trieste, Italy.


The concentrated nicotine in e-cigarette refill liquids can be toxic if inadvertently ingested or absorbed through the skin. Reports of poisonings due to accidental ingestion of nicotine on refill liquids are rapidly increasing, while the evaluation of nicotine dermally absorbed still lacks. For that reason we studied transdermal nicotine absorption after the skin contamination with e-liquid. Donor chambers of eight Franz diffusion cells were filled with 1 mL of 0.8 mg/mL nicotine e-liquid for 24 h. The concentration of nicotine in the receiving phase was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (LOD:0.1 μg/mL). Nicotine was detectable in receiving solution 2 h after the start of exposure and increased progressively. The medium flux calculated was 4.82 ± 1.05 μg/cm(2)/h with a lag time of 3.9 ± 0.1 h. After 24 h, the nicotine concentration in the receiving compartment was 101.02 ± 22.35 μg/cm(2) corresponding to 3.04 mg of absorbed nicotine after contamination of a skin surface of 100 cm(2). Skin contamination with e-liquid can cause nicotine skin absorption: caution must be paid when handling refill e-liquids.


Percutaneous absorption; Skin contamination; e-cigarette; e-liquid

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