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Evaluating Dermal Metabolism and Uptake as Pathways of Human Exposure to Per- and PolyFluoroAlkyl Substances (PFAS) in Cosmetics (FluoroCosm)

Project description

An in vitro 3D skin model for assessing cosmetic chemicals

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals encountered at high levels in many products including cosmetics. Scientists of the EU-funded FluoroCosm project wish to determine the toxicity of these compounds following contact with the human skin. For this purpose, they will employ innovative 3D human tissue culture techniques to study dermal absorption and metabolism of PFAS. This skin equivalent approach has the potential to serve as an advanced model for investigating the implication of the skin in PFAS pharmacokinetics. More importantly, it will offer accurate risk assessment of these chemicals alongside information on their effect on human health.


FluoroCosm is a multidisciplinary project that combines advanced environmental analytical chemistry with innovative 3D human tissue culture techniques to study the dermal absorption of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from Cosmetic products. Recent studies detected PFAS compounds in various cosmetic products on the European market at high levels (up to 470 μg/g). The main hypothesis that FluoroCosm tests is that PFAS can be metabolized and absorbed through human skin, suggesting frequent contact with PFAS-containing cosmetics can lead to significant body burdens and thus adverse health effects.
While dermal contact with consumer products has been highlighted as a major pathway of human exposure to brominated flame retardants and was correlated with their levels in serum, no information are currently available on the dermal metabolism/absorption of PFAS, which hinders accurate risk assessment of these chemicals. Therefore, FluoroCosm aims to fill this major research gap by assessing human dermal metabolism/absorption of various PFAS present in Cosmetics, through real-life exposure scenarios.
This will be achieved using innovative in vitro 3D human skin equivalent cultures as alternatives to animal/human tissues. The results will be applied to develop an advanced pharmacokinetic model to evaluate the contribution of the dermal pathway to PFAS human body burdens and the potential toxic implications for such exposure.
Our vision is that improved understanding of various aspects of human dermal exposure to PFAS will provide for more accurate risk assessment studies. This will benefit public health and regulators by providing the necessary knowledge base to inform policies on correct measurements to limit human exposure to PFAS. FluoroCosm will also benefit scientists by delivering sustainable effective approaches to assessing human dermal exposure to current-use hazardous chemicals.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
B15 2TT Birmingham
United Kingdom

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West Midlands (England) West Midlands Birmingham
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76