Dermal exposure, primarily to pesticides, has been measured for almost half a century. Compared with exposure by inhalation, limited progress has been made towards standardisation of methods of measurement and development of biologically relevant exposure measures. It is suggested that the absence of a consistent terminology and a theoretical model has been an important cause of this lack of progress. Therefore, a consistent terminology based on a multicompartment model for assessment of dermal exposure is proposed that describes the transport of contaminant mass from the source of the hazardous substance to the surface of the skin. Six compartments and two barriers together with eight mass transport processes are described. With the model structure, examples are given of what some existing methods actually measure and where there are limited, or no, methods for measuring the relevant mass in a compartment or transport of mass. The importance of measuring the concentration of contaminant and not mass per area in the skin contaminant layer is stressed, as it is the concentration difference between the skin contamination layer and the perfused tissue that drives uptake. Methods for measuring uptake are currently not available. Measurement of mass, concentration, and the transport processes must be based on a theoretical model. Standardisation of methods of measurement of dermal exposure is strongly recommended.
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