17 Aug 2010

Review of dermal effects and uptake of petroleum hydrocarbons

Report no. 5/10: This report serves as an update to and an extension of a previous CONCAWE report on dermal absorption of petroleum hydrocarbons (Petroleum hydrocarbons:their absorption through and effects on the skin, CONCAWE Report 84/54, 1984). To contribute to health risk assessments associated with dermal exposure, this report evaluates experimental data to determine the extent to which petroleum hydrocarbons pass through the skin.

These data strongly suggest that dermal exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons, even following long-term exposures such a sin occupational settings, will not cause systemic toxicity under normal working conditions and assuming an intact skin barrier. Skin contact with some petroleum products may cause skin irritation, leading to dermatitis, particularly after repeated or prolonged exposure.

In addition to these irritating effects, the skin barrier function may be affected following repeated contact with petroleum hydrocarbons, making the skin potentially more susceptible to other irritants, sensitizing agents, and bacteria. In addition, the impaired skin barrier may lead to increased dermal penetration of hydrocarbons and other substances. To avoid this there is a need to minimise skin contact.

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