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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Clothing-mediated exposure to chemicals and particles.

  • Author(s): Licina, Dusan
  • Morrison, Glenn C
  • Beko, Gabriel
  • Weschler, Charles J
  • Nazaroff, William W
  • et al.

A growing body of evidence identifies clothing as an important mediator of human exposure to chemicals and particles, which may have public health significance. This paper reviews and critically assesses the state of knowledge regarding how clothing, during wear, influences exposure to molecular chemicals, abiotic particles, and biotic particles, including microbes and allergens. The underlying processes that govern the acquisition, retention and transmission of clothing-associated contaminants and the consequences of these for subsequent exposures are explored. Chemicals of concern have been identified in clothing, including byproducts of their manufacture and chemicals that adhere to clothing during use and care. Analogously, clothing acts as a reservoir for biotic and abiotic particles acquired from occupational and environmental sources. Evidence suggests that while clothing can be protective by acting as a physical or chemical barrier, clothing-mediated exposures can be substantial in certain circumstances and may have adverse health consequences. This complex process is influenced by the type and history of the clothing, the nature of the contaminant and by wear, care and storage practices. Future research efforts are warranted to better quantify, predict and control clothing-related exposures.

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