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Keywords:

  • Absorption;
  • contaminants;
  • dead;
  • living;
  • models;
  • percutaneous;
  • regulations;
  • skin;
  • uncertainty;
  • water

Average rates of total dermal uptake (Kup) from short-term (e.g., bathing) contact with dilute aqueous organic chemicals (DAOCs) are typically estimated from steady-state in vitro diffusion-cell measures of chemical permeability (Kp) through skin into receptor solution. Widely used (“PCR-vitro”) methods estimate Kup by applying diffusion theory to increase Kp predictions made by a physico-chemical regression (PCR) model that was fit to a large set of Kp measures. Here, Kup predictions for 18 DAOCs made by three PCR-vitro models (EPA, NIOSH, and MH) were compared to previous in vivo measures obtained by methods unlikely to underestimate Kup. A new PCR model fit to all 18 measures is accurate to within approximately threefold (r = 0.91, p < 10−5), but the PCR-vitro predictions (r > 0.63) all tend to underestimate the Kup measures by mean factors (UF, and p value for testing UF = 1) of 10 (EPA, p < 10−6), 11 (NIOSH, p < 10−8), and 6.2 (MH, p = 0.018). For all three PCR-vitro models, log(UF) correlates negatively with molecular weight (r2 = 0.31 to 0.84, p = 0.017 to < 10−6) but not with log(vapor pressure) as an additional predictor (p > 0.05), so vapor pressure appears not to explain the significant in vivo/PCR-vitro discrepancy. Until this discrepancy is explained, careful in vivo measures of Kup should be obtained for more chemicals, the expanded in vivo database should be compared to in vitro-based predictions, and in vivo data should be considered in assessing aqueous dermal exposure and its uncertainty.