Comparison of skin decontamination efficacy of commercial decontamination products following exposure to VX on human skin

L Thors, M Koch, E Wigenstam, B Koch, L Hägglund, A Bucht
Chemico-biological Interactions 2017 August 1, 273: 82-89
The decontamination efficacy of four commercially available skin decontamination products following exposure to the nerve agent VX was evaluated in vitro utilizing a diffusion cell and dermatomed human skin. The products included were Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL), the Swedish decontamination powder 104 (PS104), the absorbent Fuller's Earth and the aqueous solution alldecontMED. In addition, various decontamination procedures were assessed to further investigate important mechanisms involved in the specific products, e.g. decontamination removal from skin, physical removal by sponge swabbing and activation of degradation mechanisms. The efficacy of each decontamination product was evaluated 5 or 30 min after dermal application of VX (neat or diluted to 20% in water). The RSDL-lotion was superior in reducing the penetration of VX through human skin, both when exposed as neat agent and when diluted to 20% in water. Swabbing with the RSDL-sponge during 2 min revealed decreased efficacy compared to applying the RSDL-lotion directly on the skin for 30 min. Decontamination with Fuller's Earth and alldecontMED significantly reduced the penetration of neat concentration of VX through human skin. PS104-powder was insufficient for decontamination of VX at both time-points, independently of the skin contact time of PS104. The PS104-slurry (a mixture of PS104-powder and water), slightly improved the decontamination efficacy. Comparing the time-points for initiated decontamination revealed less penetrated VX for RSDL and Fuller's Earth when decontamination was initiated after 5 min compared to 30 min post-exposure, while alldecontMED displayed similar efficacy at both time-points. Decontamination by washing with water only resulted in a significant reduction of penetrated VX when washing was performed 5 min after exposure, but not when decontamination was delayed to 30 min post-exposure of neat VX. In conclusion, early initiated decontamination with the RSDL-lotion, containing both absorption and degrading properties, allowed to act on skin for 30 min was superior in preventing VX from penetrating human skin. Adding water during decontamination resulted in increased penetration of neat VX, however, water in the decontaminant removal process did not influence the decontamination efficacy. From our study on commercially available decontaminants, it is recommended that future product developments should include both strong absorbents and efficient nerve agent degrading components.

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