Development of a biologically relevant dermal sampler.
ABSTRACT There are currently no appropriate methods for measuring dermal exposure to volatile agents. To address this we have produced a prototype Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) dermal sampler consisting of an adsorbent sandwiched between a permeable membrane and an impervious backing. The concentration of solvent on the membrane surface may be estimated from the mass collected on the adsorbent and the known permeation rate through the membrane. We have developed the prototype IOM dermal sampler for measurement of toluene exposures. Evaluation of the prototype sampler was undertaken in two stages: laboratory performance in controlled exposure situations and two short-field evaluations, which included simultaneous measurement of inhalation exposure. In all cases we compared the prototype IOM dermal sampler with activated charcoal cloth (ACC). Laboratory trials were split into spray, pour and immersion tests. The data from these suggest that the sampler responds to concentration rather than the mass on the surface of the sampler. The field study showed that the prototype sampler was suitable for measuring dermal exposure. However, the mean permeation rate of the best membrane was 78 000 mug cm(-2) h(-1), which is higher than the permeation rate through skin. This high permeation rate created difficulties throughout the study, particularly as it allowed the adsorbent to become rapidly saturated. The prototype IOM dermal sampler is the first practical dermal exposure sampler to mimic uptake through the skin. The sampler gave reproducible results in the laboratory and field trials. Future work is required to identify a less permeable membrane, which has characteristics closer to that of human skin. Additionally, a higher capacity adsorbent would be desirable. We have demonstrated a major difference when calculating the total contribution to body burden via the dermal exposure pathway using the prototype IOM dermal sampler and ACC patches, 1.5% of the total body burden compared with 95%. The prototype IOM dermal sampler provides a more biologically relevant exposure metric than the alternatives.