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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 16, 2014

Sampling the stratum corneum for toxic chemicals

  • Garrett Coman EMAIL logo , Nicholas R. Blickenstaff , Collin M. Blattner , Rosa Andersen and Howard I. Maibach


Dermal exposure is an important pathway in environmental health. Exposure comes from contaminated water, soil, treated surfaces, textiles, aerosolized chemicals, and agricultural products. It can occur in homes, schools, play areas, and work settings in the form of industrial sources, consumer products, or hazardous wastes. Dermal exposure is most likely to occur through contact with liquids, water, soil, sediment, and contaminated surfaces. The ability to detect and measure exposure to toxic materials on the skin is an important environmental health issue. The stratum corneum is the skin’s first and principal barrier layer of protection from the outside world. It has a complex structure that can effectively protect against a wide variety of physical, chemical, and biological contaminants. However, there are a variety of chemical agents that can damage the stratum corneum and the underlying epidermis, dermis and subcutis, and/or enter systemic circulation through the skin. There are numerous ways of sampling the stratum corneum for these toxic materials like abrasion techniques, biopsy, suction blistering, imaging, washing, wipe sampling, tape stripping, and spot testing. Selecting a method likely depends on the particular needs of the situation. Hence, there is a need to review practical considerations for their use in sampling the stratum corneum for toxins.

Corresponding author: Garrett Coman, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA, E-mail: ; and Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA


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Received: 2014-7-19
Accepted: 2014-8-5
Published Online: 2014-9-16
Published in Print: 2014-8-1

©2014 by De Gruyter

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