Student Research: Julia Marks

Quantifying Chemical Transfer from Fabric to Skin
Environmental Health (EH)
Faculty Advisor: 


Many commercial textiles (clothing, linens, upholstery, furniture) are impregnated, or may be contaminated with, chemicals capable of penetrating the skin. Several researchers have detected high concentrations of metals, pesticides, flame-retardants, phthalates, and optical brighteners in children and adult clothing items. Other studies have demonstrated the transmission of chemicals from clothing to urine. However, the fabric-to-skin pathway remains poorly quantified. This study aims to measure the rate at which a low volatility optical brightener would transfer from clothing to and through the skin. [14C]-7-hydroxycoumarin was applied to three types of fabrics in two fabric concentrations. Human cadaver skin was exposed to the loaded fabric in vitro for 24-hours. Migration of the radiolabeled compound was measured by liquid scintillation counting (LSC). Data produced by this study enabled the calculation of flux to skin (ng/cm2/hr) as well as a fabric-specific mass transfer coefficient (kF). Analysis of the data suggests that dermal exposure to chemicals in textiles can contribute to the total body burden of such compounds. Quantification of fabric-to-skin transfer rates can aid in the assessment of the effects of fabric type, fabric load, and contact time on chronic exposure to semi-volatile organic chemicals.