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Assessment of dermal absorption of organic flame retardant chemicals using 3D-in vitro human skin models

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A new way to test skin absorption

Scientists have found a new way to study the absorption of toxic flame retardants (FRs) through skin, without harming a single animal in the process.

Industrial Technologies

FRs are chemical compounds that are added to plastics, textiles and coatings to prevent the spread of fires. Despite the advantages of these widespread compounds, they are known to leak into the environment, accumulate in most organisms, and may be toxic to humans. ADAPT (Assessment of dermal absorption of organic flame retardant chemicals using 3D-in vitro human skin models) was an EU-funded project that studied how FRs in dust and consumer products are absorbed through human skin. Project work has revolutionised dermal absorption research by using analytical chemistry and human tissue culture for testing, instead of animals. Team members created standard procedures to test the absorption of different types of FRs through skin tissue grown in a lab. The researchers also developed advanced mathematical models to analyse the large volumes of novel data that they were collecting. The study found that FR compounds were more easily absorbed in the presence of certain topically applied cosmetics (such as moisturisers). Toddlers showed higher uptake of FRs through skin than adults. Hand washing, on the other hand, reduced the absorption of FRs. ADAPT has revolutionised the study of hazardous chemicals on human skin, and their results provide a foundation for further risk assessment studies. The study will benefit public health, policymakers, regulators and scientists by providing an ethically sound approach to understanding the effects of exposure to harmful chemicals.


Skin, toxic, flame retardants, dermal absorption, tissue culture

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