Evaporation of Volatile Organic Compounds from Human Skin In Vitro

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The specific evaporation rates of 21 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from either human skin or a glass substrate mounted in modified Franz diffusion cells were determined gravimetrically. The diffusion cells were positioned either on a laboratory bench top or in a controlled position in a fume hood, simulating indoor and outdoor environments, respectively. A data set of 54 observations (34 skin and 20 glass) was assembled and subjected to a correlation analysis employing 5 evaporative mass transfer relationships drawn from the literature. Models developed by Nielsen et al. (Prediction of isothermal evaporation rates of pure volatile organic compounds in occupational environments: a theoretical approach based on laminar boundary layer theory. Ann Occup Hyg 1995;39:497–511.) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Peress, Estimate evaporative losses from spills. Chem Eng Prog 2003; April: 32–34.) were found to be the most effective at correlating observed and calculated evaporation rates under the various conditions. The U.S. EPA model was selected for further use based on its simplicity. This is a turbulent flow model based only on vapor pressure and molecular weight of the VOC and the effective air flow rate u. Optimum values of u for the two laboratory environments studied were 0.23 m s−1 (bench top) and 0.92 m s−1 (fume hood).

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