Skin sensitization risk assessment: A comparative evaluation of 3 isothiazolinone biocides

David A. Basketter, Rosemary Rodford, Ian Kimber, Ian Smith, Jan E. Wahlberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many of the chemicals in common use possess, to some degree, a capacity to cause skin sensitization. Consequently, it is important to conduct a thorough and accurate risk assessment when it can be anticipated that such chemicals are likely to come into contact with human skin. Such risk assessments must consider the nature and extent of dermal exposure together with the sensitizing potency of the chemical. Whilst the exposure elements of the risk assessment process are often well understood, or can at least be reasonably predicted on the basis of the proposed usage of the chemical, the determination of skin sensitizing potency may be problematic. In this paper, we describe an approach to the determination of relative potency of 3 isothiazolinone biocides. Initially, the local lymph node assay (LLNA) provides an estimate of relative sensitizing potency Where appropriate, this can be followed by confirmatory testing in the human repeat insult patch test (HRIPT). The data generated reveal that (chloro)methyl isothiazolinone (CMI) is a significantly stronger sensitizer than either methyl trimethylene isothiazolinone (MTI) or benzisothiazolinone (BIT). Furthermore, both the LLNA and the HRIPT data show consistently that BIT is a somewhat weaker skin sensitizer than MTI. As an important additional component of the safety evaluation, the ability of these sensitizing isothiazolinones to cross-react has been considered; the data indicate that the more weakly sensitizing isothiazolinones do not elicit allergic reactions in subjects sensitized to MCI. The implications for use of these biocides in various product types are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)150-154
    Number of pages4
    JournalContact dermatitis
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • Biocides
    • Cross-reactivity
    • Human repeat insult patch test
    • Isothiazolinones
    • Local lymph node assay
    • Risk assessment


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