Occupational hygiene practitioners typically assess the risk posed by occupational exposure by comparing exposure measurements to regulatory occupational exposure limits (OELs). In most jurisdictions, OELs are only available for exposure by the inhalation pathway. Skin notations are used to indicate substances for which dermal exposure may lead to health effects. However, these notations are either present or absent and provide no indication of acceptable levels of exposure. Furthermore, the methodology and framework for assigning skin notation differ widely across jurisdictions resulting in inconsistencies in the substances that carry notations. The UPERCUT tool was developed in response to these limitations. It helps occupational health stakeholders to assess the hazard associated with dermal exposure to chemicals. UPERCUT integrates dermal quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) and toxicological data to provide users with a skin hazard index called the dermal hazard ratio (DHR) for the substance and scenario of interest. The DHR is the ratio between the estimated 'received' dose and the 'acceptable' dose. The 'received' dose is estimated using physico-chemical data and information on the exposure scenario provided by the user (body parts exposure and exposure duration), and the 'acceptable' dose is estimated using inhalation OELs and toxicological data. The uncertainty surrounding the DHR is estimated with Monte Carlo simulation. Additional information on the selected substances includes intrinsic skin permeation potential of the substance and the existence of skin notations. UPERCUT is the only available tool that estimates the absorbed dose and compares this to an acceptable dose. In the absence of dermal OELs it provides a systematic and simple approach for screening dermal exposure scenarios for 1686 substances.
Keywords: dermal absorption; dermal exposure; dermal exposure modelling; exposure estimation; hazard assessment.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.