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Skin sensitization: strategies for the assessment and management of risk.

British Journal of Dermatology, 2008

Limitation can be achieved by correct identification of skin sensitizers, characterization of their potency, understanding human skin exposure and application of good risk assessment/management strategies.
Various methods exist which are accurate for the predictive identification of chemicals that possess skin-sensitizing properties.
These are enshrined in regulations that aim to provide a harmonized approach to hazard identification.
One of the methods, the local lymph node assay, also delivers information on the relative potency of sensitizers.
Efforts are continuing in the European Union and at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to use elements of this information for regulatory categorization of skin sensitizers.
However, greater use can be made of this potency information in the application of quantitative risk assessments.
Such assessments depend also on the availability of accurate data on human skin exposure, one aspect where legislation has little role to play.
Management of risks by restriction of skin exposure is, in contrast, a key point where legislation can play an important role, helping to establish a level playing field for industry and setting good standards based on the legislator's ability to access all data.
Ultimately, the combination of accurate hazard identification, potency measurement, risk assessment and management, underpinned by enabling legislation, will lead to reduction of ACD.
For individuals who do still develop contact allergy, avoidance of ACD should continue to be a goal, based on raising awareness of skin protection, allergen labelling and other skincare strategies.