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Predicted Chemical Warfare Agent VX Toxicity to Uniformed Soldier Using Parathionin VitroHuman Skin Exposure and Absorption

Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/taap.2000.9028


Abstract Chemical warfare agents (CWA) are easily and inexpensively produced and are a significant threat to military forces and the public. Most well-known CWAs are organophosphorus compounds, a number or which are used as pesticides, including parathion. This study determined the in vitro percutaneous absorption of parathion as a CWA simulant through naked human skin and uniformed skin (dry and sweated). Parathion percentage dose absorbed through naked skin (1.78 ± 0.41) was greater than dry uniformed skin (0.29 ± 0.17; p = 0.000) and sweated uniformed skin (0.65 ± 0.16; p = 0.000). Sweated and dry uniformed skin absorption were also different ( p = 0.007). These relative dry and sweated uniformed skin absorptions were then applied to VX skin permeability for naked skin (head, neck, arms, and hands) and the remaining uniformed skin over the various regions of the human body. Risk assessment shows VX 50% lethality within the first hour for a soldier wearing a sweated uniform. By 8 h postexposure to naked skin plus trunk area predicted lethality for both dry and sweated uniform, and, at 96 h postexposure, all body regions individually exposed would produce lethality. Military uniform and public clothing provide some immediate protection but absorption through cloth and skin does occur. Immediate safety response to skin and clothing is required.

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