Developing probability distributions for transfer efficiencies for dermal exposure

Paloma Beamer, Robert A. Canales, James O. Leckie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Many dermal exposure models use stochastic techniques to sample parameter distributions derived from experimental data to more accurately represent variability and uncertainty. Transfer efficiencies represent the fraction of a surface contaminant transferred from the surface to the skin during a contact event. Although an important parameter for assessing dermal exposure, examination of the literature confirms that no single study is large enough to provide a basis for a transfer efficiency distribution for use in stochastic dermal exposure models. It is therefore necessary to combine data sets from multiple studies to achieve the largest data set possible for distribution analysis. A literature review was conducted to identify publications reporting transfer efficiencies. Data sets were compared using the Kruskal-Wallis test to determine whether they arise from the same distribution. Combined data were evaluated for several theoretical distributions using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov and χ2-goodness-of-fit tests. Our literature review identified 35 studies comprising 25 different sampling methods, 25 chemicals, and 10 surface types. Distributions were developed for three different chemicals (chlorpyrifos, pyrethrin I, and piperonyl butoxide) on three different surface types (carpet, vinyl, and foil). Only the lognormal distribution was consistently accepted for each chemical and surface combination. Fitted distributions were significantly different (Kruskal-Wallis test; P<0.001) across chemicals and surface types. In future studies, increased effort should be placed on developing large studies, which more accurately represent transfer to human skin from surfaces, and on developing a normative transfer efficiency measure so that data from different methodologies can be compared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Dermal exposure
  • Distribution development
  • Exposure factor
  • Goodness of fit
  • Stochastic modeling
  • Transfer efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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