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SKIN PROTECTION STRATEGIES:EVALUATION OF REAL AND THEORETICAL EFFECTIVENESS

Background

Dermal exposures to chemicals are a significant consideration when assessing and managing the
health risks presented by chemical substances. Personal protective equipment (PPE) can play a
significant role in helping reduce exposure. For example, protective gloves are commonly
recommended as a suitable form of protection in safety data sheets and are frequently used throughout
the chemical industry.
Understanding dermal exposure becomes a more critical once chemicals are in contact with the skin.
Although primarily a function of the amount deposited on body surfaces and the effectiveness of the
PPE, the actual quantities of a chemical that come into contact with the skin are not well understood..
CEFIC has instigated research under the LRI to better characterise the amounts of solid and liquid
aerosols deposited on body surfaces (not the skin) in a range of typical operations undertaken in the
chemical industry. In order to assess the risks arising from the dermal permeation of chemicals,
however, there is also a need to characterise the effectiveness of PPE in practice. That is, what
protection is afforded under 'real life' situations compared with the protection that may be estimated
from the findings of laboratory-based experiments?

Objectives

Proposals are requested to undertake, in the first instance, a survey of the available literature in order
to characterise the real and theoretical protection provided by commonly encountered forms of PPE in
the chemical industry. It is envisaged that this would address exposures to both liquid and solid (nonfibrous)
aerosols and include PPE designed to protect both hand/lower arms, e.g. gloves and gauntlets,
as well as typical workwear, e.g. polycotton coveralls and safety boots. The literature search would
need to include an assessment of available methods that are capable of consistently and reliably
quantifying relevant exposure data. It is also expected that some review of these methods would be
included in the study in order to identify those which may be appropriate for use in any field studies
(see below).
Secondly, the project would include a review of the potential for dermal exposure of normal chemical
industry applications, including downstream activities, e.g. product formulation and major
professional uses of chemical products. Based upon the literature survey, further work, either in the
field, and/or using controlled simulations, would be identified and undertaken that helps to better
characterise exposure and reduce uncertainty in the estimates of protection ascribed to dermal PPE.
Depending on the findings and LRI programme priorities, the LRI Monitoring Team (MT) will work
closely with the successful contractor to set direction for field or simulation work.

Timing: It is anticipated that this project will commence in Q1/2002 and last for 24 months. Interim reports on progress are required at 6-month intervals.

Cost: The estimated cost is $150,000.

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