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Indoor Air. 2017 Mar;27(2):427-433. doi: 10.1111/ina.12327. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

Measurements of dermal uptake of nicotine directly from air and clothing.

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Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark.
Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO, USA.
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA.
Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine of the German Social Accident Insurance, Bochum, Germany.
Fraunhofer WKI, Braunschweig, Germany.


In this preliminary study, we have investigated whether dermal uptake of nicotine directly from air or indirectly from clothing can be a meaningful exposure pathway. Two participants wearing only shorts and a third participant wearing clean cotton clothes were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), generated by mechanically "smoking" cigarettes, for three hours in a chamber while breathing clean air from head-enveloping hoods. The average nicotine concentration (420 μg/m3 ) was comparable to the highest levels reported for smoking sections of pubs. Urine samples were collected immediately before exposure and 60 hour post-exposure for bare-skinned participants. For the clothed participant, post-exposure urine samples were collected for 24 hour. This participant then entered the chamber for another three-hour exposure wearing a hood and clothes, including a shirt that had been exposed for five days to elevated nicotine levels. The urine samples were analyzed for nicotine and two metabolites-cotinine and 3OH-cotinine. Peak urinary cotinine and 3OH-cotinine concentrations for the bare-skinned participants were comparable to levels measured among non-smokers in hospitality environments before smoking bans. The amount of dermally absorbed nicotine for each bare-skinned participant was conservatively estimated at 570 μg, but may have been larger. For the participant wearing clean clothes, uptake was ~20 μg, and while wearing a shirt previously exposed to nicotine, uptake was ~80 μg. This study demonstrates meaningful dermal uptake of nicotine directly from air or from nicotine-exposed clothes. The findings are especially relevant for children in homes with smoking or vaping.


biomonitoring; e-cigarettes; exposure pathway; indoor environment; smoking; vaping

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