International archives of occupational and environmental health

Skin absorption of the industrial catalyst dimethylethylamine in vitro in guinea pig and human skin, and of gaseous dimethylethylamine in human volunteers.

PMID 9352333


The aims of the study were three-fold: to assess the skin uptake of the industrial catalyst dimethylethylamine (DMEA) (a) in vitro from water solutions by fresh guinea-pig and human skin specimens, (b) in gaseous form in vivo in human volunteers, and (c) to estimate the relevance of the uptake as an occupational hazard. Specimens from the in vitro and in vivo experiments were analysed by gas chromatography using a nitrogen-sensitive detector. DMEA, diluted with water or isotonic saline solution was applied to fresh human or guinea-pig skin, mounted in Teflon flow-through cells with a perfusion fluid flow rate of 1.5 ml/h, samples being collected at 2-h intervals for 48 h. Three healthy male volunteers each had their right forearm exposed (in a Plexiglass chamber) for 4 h to DMEA at each of three different levels (250, 500 and 1000 mg/m3 air). Urine was collected up to 24 h after the start of each experiment. DMEA penetrated both guinea-pig and human skin. The median steady-state flux and permeability coefficient (Kp) values, were 0.009 mg/cm2 x h and 0.001 cm/h, respectively, for guinea-pig skin, and 0.017 mg/cm2 x h and 0.003 cm/h, respectively, for human skin. The median uptake in the three volunteers at the different DMEA exposure levels (250, 500 or 1000 mg/m3) was 44, 64 and 88 micrograms, respectively. The median Kp for all experiments was 0.037 cm/h. Uptake of DMEA through the skin is of far less importance than simultaneous uptake via the airways. Thus, the amount of DMEA excreted in urine is a variable of limited use for the purposes of biological monitoring. Although a wide range of Kp values was obtained in the in vitro experiments, both for guinea-pig and human skin, there was no marked difference in median Kp values between the two types of skin. The Kp values were lower than those obtained for human forearm skin in vivo. However, future studies of other tertiary aliphatic amines may show the in vitro method to yield values predictive of those obtained in in vivo studies.

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N,N-Dimethylethylamine, ≥99%
N,N-Dimethylethylamine, 99%