Percutaneous absorption of vapors in human skin

Balvinder Rehal, Howard Maibach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Context: The absorption of vapors through the skin is an important issue because exposure of skin to chemicals in the ambient air occurs at all times. In regards to occupational health, accurately quantifying percutaneous absorption is crucial for worker health and safety. Objective: Review the available data regarding the percutaneous absorption of vapors in humans. Methods: We conducted a systematic search in Scopus® and PubMed using keywords "vapor" and "percutaneous absorption" up until September 23, 2010. Results: Eleven articles document the absorption of vapors in human skin in vivo. Seven articles utilized aromatic solvents including xylene and toluene, two tested 2-methoxyethanol, and two tested solely 2-butoxyethanol. Of the 11 articles, eight estimated the percentage of skin absorption compared with whole body exposure. Of the eight articles, four concluded that percutaneous absorption of aromatic solvent vapors from the air is likely to be insignificant and four concluded that dermal uptake of alcohol solvents caused significant absorption. Conclusion: Skin absorption of vapors is an important and relevant topic that has not been studied extensively. Further investigation of percutaneous vapor absorption is needed to ensure safe usage of solvent vapors in the workplace, and possibly elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-91
Number of pages5
JournalCutaneous and Ocular Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • absorption
  • humans
  • in vivo
  • Vapors skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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