Role of clothing in both accelerating and impeding dermal absorption of airborne SVOCs

Glenn C. Morrison, Charles J. Weschler, Gabriel Bekö, Holger M. Koch, Tunga Salthammer, Tobias Schripp, Jørn Toftum, Geo Clausen

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To assess the influence of clothing on dermal uptake of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), we measured uptake of selected airborne phthalates for an individual wearing clean clothes or air-exposed clothes and compared these results with dermal uptake for bare-skinned individuals under otherwise identical experimental conditions. Using a breathing hood to isolate dermal from inhalation uptake, we measured urinary metabolites of diethylphthalate (DEP) and di-n-butylphthalate (DnBP) from an individual exposed to known concentrations of these compounds for 6 h in an experimental chamber. The individual wore either clean (fresh) cotton clothes or cotton clothes that had been exposed to the same chamber air concentrations for 9 days. For a 6-h exposure, the net amounts of DEP and DnBP absorbed when wearing fresh clothes were, respectively, 0.017 and 0.007 μg/kg/(μg/m3); for exposed clothes the results were 0.178 and 0.261 μg/kg/(μg/m3), respectively (values normalized by air concentration and body mass). When compared against the average results for bare-skinned participants, clean clothes were protective, whereas exposed clothes increased dermal uptake for DEP and DnBP by factors of 3.3 and 6.5, respectively. Even for non-occupational environments, wearing clothing that has adsorbed/absorbed indoor air pollutants can increase dermal uptake of SVOCs by substantial amounts relative to bare skin.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)113-118
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Biomonitoring
  • Dermal exposure
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Exposure modeling
  • Phthalates

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