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Progress in research on permeation of chemicals through the skin

Towards the harmonisation of experimental practices

The paper titled “Reflections on the OECD guidelines for in vitro skin absorption studies” to which INRS contributed has just been awarded an international prize by the Society of Toxicology (SOT). The paper highlights the importance of developing the current guidelines for measuring permeation of toxic industrial chemicals through the skin. For too long now, this occupational exposure route has been considered minor.

The “Paper of the Year” award has just been granted to the paper titled “Reflections on the OECD guidelines for in vitro skin absorption studies” by the Dermal Toxicology Speciality Section of the Society of Toxicology (DTSS / SOT).

 

Installation of a skin sample on the diffusion cell to evaluate the permeation of chemicals through the skin

This article is the product of collaboration between different international research institutes, including Unisanté and INRS, both members of the Perosh (Partnership for European research in Occupational Safety and Health) network. It aims to improve the international guidelines set out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for performing in vitro skin absorption studies.  It was published in November 2020 in the Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology journal.

Sectional diagram of the device used to evaluate skin permeation

These guidelines are used by research organisations, in the toxicology field, for the harmonised characterisation of permeation of chemicals through the skin (in vitro tests on human and animal skin samples). They make it possible to determine the quantity of substance crossing the skin barrier and the quantity being stored in the skin, as well as the speed at which it permeates; and to study whether, when it is absorbed in the skin, the substance undergoes biotransformations that might make it more or less toxic than the initial substance.

The results of these experiments can be used by national or international health agencies to assess the toxicity of certain chemicals.

 

A concrete application of this work concerns the skin permeation of  bisphenol S (BPS), used as a developer in thermal paper. It is a replacement for bisphenol A, which is an endocrine disruptor classified as toxic for reproduction (R1B). Skin permeation data for BPS should ultimately enable better assessment of risks related to the handling of thermal paper containing BPS by cashiers.

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Last update on 30/04/2021