Quantitative skin exposure assessment of metals: a systematic literature review of current approaches for risk assessment using the construction industry as an exposure scenario
Purpose This article summarises a systematic literature review of skin exposure assessment methods and concepts for deriving skin (dermal) exposure limits for metals, using the construction industry, where there is a high prevalence of occupational skin exposures as a test environment. Methods A systematic literature review was undertaken across ten databases key to Occupational Health and Safety. Articles were considered for inclusion if they evaluated skin or surface exposure to metals or discussed the feasibility of establishing skin or surface exposure limits in an occupational setting. Only full text, peer-reviewed articles were retrieved. All publications up to 30/06/2019 were considered. The quality of evidence was evaluated based on methodology. Results A total of 71 studies were selected for inclusion in the review with 49 on skin exposure assessment methods for metals and 22 relating to the derivation of skin exposure limits. The use of wipe sampling methodologies was shown to be standardised and efective for sampling skin exposures to metals. In contrast, there was no scientifc consensus on the concept of quantitative skin exposure limits. Conclusion There was greater strength of evidence that wipe methods for the measurement of metals would work well. A research gap with respect to the development of health-based skin exposure limits for metals was identifed. Frameworks currently proposed for devising quantitative skin exposure limits are provided. These approaches could be adapted to improve the risk assessment of skin exposures to surface metal contaminants.