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Dermal Exposure Sampling

Dermal Exposure Sampling


Dermal exposure to hazardous agents can result in a variety of occupational diseases and disorders, including occupational skin diseases (OSD) and systemic toxicity. OSDs are the second most common type of occupational disease after musculoskeletal disorders and can occur in several different forms including:

Local effects

  • Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD)

  • Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)

  • Skin cancers

  • Skin infections

  • Skin injuries

  • Other miscellaneous skin diseases, for example urticaria and acne​


Studies show that absorption of chemicals through the skin can occur without being noticed by the worker, and in some cases, may represent the most significant exposure pathway. Many commonly used chemicals in the workplace could potentially result in systemic toxicity if they penetrate through the skin, ie pesticides and organic solvents. These chemicals enter the blood stream and cause health problems away from the site of entry, for example:  

Systemic diseases

  • bladder and scrotal cancers

  • kidney disease

  • heart disease

  • circulatory and nervous system diseases, and

  • poisoning 

Workers at risk of potentially harmful exposures of the skin include, but are not limited to those working in industries such as cosmetology, health care, agriculture, cleaning, mechanics and construction.

The consequences to an employee of health issues related to OSD's is significant and can impact greatly on both their work and social life.  For employers there are cost consequences such as sickness absence and loss of productivity.  For society, there are costs such as disability living allowance, incapacity benefit and NHS resources for care or rehabilitation.  Hence, employers have legal duties to assess the health risks from skin exposure to hazardous substances at work.  They must prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately control exposure to the hazards by using and maintaining suitable controls.

The purpose of dermal exposure and surface contamination monitoring is to:

  • establish dermal exposure pathways

  • assess the extent and frequency of dermal exposure

  • assess which areas of the body are receiving significant dermal exposure

  • decide which pathways and areas of the body require attention to control dermal exposure

  • assess the effectiveness of exposure control measures

  • raise awareness among workers and the need for effective control

  • encourage changes in attitudes and behaviours

  • inform and justify dermal exposure control approaches when challenged

To minimise dermal (skin) exposure it is essential to establish which pathways are contributing to the exposure and MEC carry out Dermal Exposure Sampling which will provide you with essential information for preventing or minimising exposures to hazardous substances under COSHH.

MEC are here to help and can provide you with a comprehensive exposure monitoring service, not only to offer you assurance of COSHH compliance, but more importantly to help you protect your workers.​ 

Over 20 years'


MEC offer a broad range of occupational hygiene services across all sectors of industry

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