DERMaL eToolkit for Emergency Responders


Emergency response personnel are often at risk of getting dangerous chemicals on their skin. Despite the availability of numerous high-quality resources designed to guide emergency management and operations personnel, data gaps continue to exist on specific hazards or scenarios.

Available resources contain an overwhelming quantity of data on inhalation exposures, but data related to dermal exposures are more challenging to find. Dermal contact is an important exposure pathway and can present significant health risks [Dotson et al. 2015].

The goal of the DERMaL eToolkit is to provide informational resources and tools associated with dermal exposures to chemicals. The resources and tools are intended to be used to assist in assessing the hazards associated with dermal contact with chemicals during emergency response activities.

The DERMaL eToolkit is organized by incident phase, information categories, and resource types.

Using the DERMaL eToolkit, an emergency responder in the field would be able to quickly access critical information on their phones or tablets about:

  • Health Effects
  • Exposure assessment
  • Selection of control measures
  • Medical management

The DERMaL eToolkit prioritizes resources by the needs of the emergency management and operations personnel. Subject matter experts recruited from various technical fields (i.e., industrial hygiene, emergency response, and law enforcement) rated the resources included in the eToolkit database on a set of variables including quality, accessibility, and popularity. This ensures that the most relevant resources of the search criteria appear at the top of the list.

Pre-defined searches are accessible on the main page for each phase of the response. For the response phase, “hot buttons” were included for PPE, DECON, and health information, because these terms were determined to be the most likely to be used during the response phase. Other tools on the homepage that could be utilized include a dermal checklist for assessing risks during response activities.

The DERMaL eToolkit was developed by NIOSH as a companion to Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM). It was created using responsive design, so that the eToolkit is easy to read and minimizes the need for resizing, panning, and scrolling across a range of devices including personal computers, tablets, and smartphones.