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 mu g/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 mu g, but may have been larger. For the participant wearing clean clothes, uptake was similar to 20 mu g, and while wearing a shirt previously exposed to nicotine, uptake was similar to 80 mu g. 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.
- Exposure pathway
- Indoor environment