NIOSH Skin Notation Profiles Focus Attention on Dermal Exposures

Published December 30, 2015

A growing collection of NIOSH-authored technical documents about the health effects of chemicals that contact the skin is drawing attention to dermal exposures. The documents summarize the data NIOSH uses to determine skin notations—terms that offer warnings about the direct, systemic, and sensitizing effects of chemical exposures to the skin.

Forty-five of these documents, known as “Skin Notation Profiles,” are currently available as PDFs on the NIOSH website. The agency plans to release dozens more in the next few years. The documents result from a change in strategy for assigning skin notations that NIOSH adopted in 2009.

“The former strategy, which just used the word ‘skin’ to represent dermal absorption, really did not capture all the complexity associated with dermal exposures. It did not tell you what the health endpoint was,” explained Scott Dotson, PhD, CIH, a lead health scientist with the agency’s Education and Information Division in Cincinnati. Under the new strategy, Dotson said, “we’re looking at the health effects, and we’ve expanded beyond dermal absorption to include irritation, sensitization, and systemic toxicity.”

“To prioritize chemicals for review under the new strategy, NIOSH first assessed the 160 chemicals that had previously been assigned the dermal absorption notation,” said Naomi Hudson, DrPH, a NIOSH epidemiologist who serves as the project officer for the Skin Notation Profiles. Other chemicals in line for Skin Notation Profiles include those that are important to emergency responders.

NIOSH Skin Notation Profiles are available on the agency’s website. To learn more about the NIOSH strategy for assigning skin notations, see Current Intelligence Bulletin 61.

An article on page 14 of the January 2016 issue of The Synergist will feature more information on this topic from the Synergist interview with Dotson and Hudson.