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EPA-Expo-Box (A Toolbox for Exposure Assessors)

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Dermal

Scenarios

Dermal exposure can be estimated by first defining the exposure scenario of interest. Exposure scenarios typically include information on the sources and pathways of exposure, contaminants of concern, and receptor populations. They might also describe a receptor population’s activities that may affect exposure and the timeframe over which exposure occurs.

Dermal exposure could occur from contact with contaminated environmental media—soil, dust, water, sediment—or contaminants from consumer products. Dermal contact with soil could occur during outdoor recreational, gardening, or construction-related activities. Receptors could come into contact with contaminants in soil and dust that have settled on carpets, floors, clothing, counter tops, or other surfaces. Children are particularly susceptible via this indirect pathway because certain activities (e.g., crawling or playing on the floor indoors) may increase their contact with contaminant-laden dust. Dermal absorption of water contaminants could occur during activities such as hand washing, bathing, and swimming in a pool or surface water body. Receptors could contact contaminants in sediment while fishing, clamming, wading, or swimming in a lake, river, or other water body. Contaminants in consumer products can result in human exposures through intentional direct contact (such as applying cosmetics or other personal care products to the skin); unintentional direct contact (e.g., contact with laundry detergent or surface cleaner while in use); or indirect contact (e.g., cleaning product or pesticide residues on surfaces).

The table below provides some examples of dermal exposure scenarios. The list of examples is not meant to be exhaustive; there are numerous other dermal exposure scenarios that may be constructed based on the specific needs of the assessment. There are also numerous variations of the examples provided in the table. Additional information on exposure scenarios involving dermal exposure may be found in the Indirect Estimation Module of the Approaches Tool Set of EPA-Expo-Box.

Examples of Dermal Exposure Scenarios and Relateda
Exposure Factor Handbook: 2011 Edition Tables
Medium Receptor Population Activity/Timeframe Contact Rate Exposure Period
Tap water General population; adults Showering; lifetime Total surface area
[Table 7-1]
Chronic
Surface water; localized Children Wading Surface area of legs and feet
[Table 7-2]
Sub-chronic
Swimming pool water Recreating adults and children Swimming over the short-term
[Table 16-1]
Total skin surface area
[Table 7-1]
Acute
Soil from contaminated site Occupational; adults Site-specific construction occupational tenure
[Table 16-8]
Surface area of selected body parts
[Table 7-2]

Adherence rates
[Table 7-4]
Chronic
House dust Young children Contact during time spent indoors; less than lifetime
[Table 16-1]
Surface area of selected body parts
[Table 7-2]

Adherence rates
[Table 7-4]
Sub-chronic
Residues on indoor surfaces Residential children Contact during time spent indoors; less than lifetime
[Table 16-1]
Surface area of selected body parts
[Table 7-2]

Contact rates
[Table 7-7]
Sub-chronic
a Information on dermal absorption may be found in U.S. EPA’s Risk assessment guidance for Superfund: Volume I: Human Health Evaluation Manual (Part E, supplemental guidance for dermal risk assessment) (U.S. EPA, 2004).

Several resources are available that illustrate dermal exposure scenarios.

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