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Dermal Toxicity


Dermal toxicity is the ability of a substance to poison people or animals by contact with the skin.

Additional Info

Under Appendix A of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200, acute dermal toxicity (from a single exposure) refers to adverse (harmful) effects occurring following dermal administration of a single dose of a substance to the skin, or multiple doses given within 24 hours. Paragraph A.1.2 of Appendix A outlines the hazard classification process for substances.

This classification process assigns an acute toxicity category of 1 through 4 with 1 being the most toxic and 4 the least according to these criteria for pure substances:

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4

≤ 50

>50 and ≤ 200

>200 and ≤ 1000

>1000 and ≤ 2000

These values have units of mg/kg of body weight and are typically assigned on the basis of rat or rabbit studies. When the substance is a mixture of chemicals, the Standard lays out a series of principles to assign the hazard classification Category based on the acute dermal toxicity of each component and its percentage in the mixture.

If the hazard classification falls into Category 1, 2, or 3, the label and SDS must use the acute toxicity pictogram (a skull and crossbones within a red-framed diamond) and signal word:

skull and crossbones pictogram

See these enties for additional information on skin exposure to toxic or corrosive materials:

SDS Relevance

Dermal toxicity (if known and applicable) will be reported in Section 11 (toxicological information) of the material's Safety Data Sheet.

Toxic materials absorb through the skin to various degrees depending on their chemical composition and whether they are dissolved in a solvent.

Always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and aprons when working with a toxic (or nontoxic) substance that can be absorbed through the skin.

Proper glove selection is critical when working with chemicals. Latex or nitrile gloves do not protect against certain chemicals and solvents. In fact, wearing the wrong gloves has lead to death; see our entry on personal protective equipment for additional resources as well as the glove selection guide under Further Reading (below).

Stainless steel glove dispenser
Encourage your workers to wear their gloves with stylish safety dispensers from Safety Emporium.

Further Reading

See also: cutaneous, dermal, dermatitis, PPE, vesicant.

Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.

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