Are there sex and gender differences in acute exposure to chemicals in the same setting?
We have little understanding of the influence that sex and gender may have on exposure to and measurement of occupational chemicals. If men and women are in the same physical environment, whether that be an occupational or an environmental setting, researchers need to question whether their acute exposure, as measured by administered and/or biologically effective dose, is the same. Not doing so may result in incorrect inferences being made about the risks associated with that exposure. Three critical questions arise specifically, do men and women differ in (1) their personal environments (immediate physical environments and personal attributes), (2) their absorption of the substance across the various biological barriers, and (3) the amount of active substance that reaches the target sites? Both contextual (e.g., smoking habits, diet, use of personal care products and jewellery, hobbies, stress, and use of medications) and biological (e.g., endocrine status) factors should be considered in answering these questions. Examples from the literature are provided to show that, depending on the chemical compound, there may be sex and gender differences in exposure to chemicals which can be manifested in sex differences in absorption, distribution, metabolism, storage, and excretion. An argument is developed to support the need to make information available, such as pharmacokinetic modeling studies in both men and women including appropriate age groups representing the spectrum of life stages and reproductive status.