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Research description

Work Environment Toxicology

We study the uptake, disposition and acute effects of chemical exposures, mainly by controlled exposure of healthy volunteers in an exposure chamber and by computer simulation with physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models. The chamber exposures are carried out in accordance with the Helsinki declaration, following informed consent and approval by the regional Ethical Committee. The results are often decisive in the setting of occupational exposure limits. We also apply our experiences by participation in Swedish and international expert groups for occupational standards.

Substances and research issues that have been studied during the last years include: acetic acid, ammonia, biomonitoring via exhaled air and saliva, dermal uptake, dioxan, gender differences, hexanal, n-hexane, hydrogen cyanide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), interindividual variability, isopropanol, methanol, phenotyping of av Cytochrome P450 2E1, water-based paint, white spirit and xylene.

Along with measures against air pollution in the work environment, the potential for dermal contact and absorption of chemicals has brought more attention. We were the first to show that the skin penetration of some organic solvents (glycol ethers) increases following dissolution in water and that the penetration of vapors of these solvents may be significant and even more important than via inhalation uptake. We have now developed a new method to study the diffusion of volatile chemicals in the skin by thermogravimetric analysis.


  • AFA
  • The Swedish Work Environment Authority
  • The Swedish Energy Agency
  • Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
  • Honeywell
  • The National Board of Health and Welfare
  • The ÅF Group

Five selected publications

Ernstgård L, Löf A, Wieslander G, Norbäck D, Johanson G.

Acute effects of some volatile organic compounds emitted from water-based paints.

J Occup Environ Med 49 (2007) 880-889.

Link to the abstract in PubMed


Johanson G, Boman A.

Percutaneous absorption of 2-butoxyethanol vapour in man.

Br J Ind Med 48 (1991) 788-792.

Link to the abstract in PubMed


Mörk AK, Johanson G.

A human physiological model describing the toxicokinetics of acetone in blood and breath at various levels of physical exercise.

Tox Lett 164 (2006) 6-15.

Link to the abstract in PubMed


Rauma M, Isaksson TS, Johanson G.

A new technique to assess dermal absorption of volatile chemicals in vitro by thermal gravimetric analysis.

Toxicol in Vitro 20 (2006) 1183-1189.

Link to the abstract in PubMed


Stamyr K, Nord P, Johanson G.

Washout kinetics of inhaled hydrogen cyanide in breath.

Toxicol Lett 179 (2008) 59-62.

Link to the abstract in PubMed



IMM, Unit of Work Environment Toxicology
The Nordic Expert Group (NEG)

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