A decision support framework for characterizing and managing dermal exposures to chemicals during Emergency Management and Operations


  • G. Scott Dotson, PhD, CIH
  • Naomi L. Hudson, DrPH
  • Andrew Maier, PhD, DABT, CIH




chemicals, decision analysis, dermal, Emergency Management and Operations, risk analysis, Hazards


Emergency Management and Operations (EMO) personnel are in need of resources and tools to assist in understanding the health risks associated with dermal exposures during chemical incidents. This article reviews available resources and presents a conceptual framework for a decision support system (DSS) that assists in characterizing and managing risk during chemical emergencies involving dermal exposures. The framework merges principles of three decision-making techniques: 1) scenario planning, 2) risk analysis, and 3) multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA). This DSS facilitates dynamic decision making during each of the distinct life cycle phases of an emergency incident (ie, preparedness, response, or recovery) and identifies EMO needs. A checklist tool provides key questions intended to guide users through the complexities of conducting a dermal risk assessment. The questions define the scope of the framework for resource identification and application to support decision-making needs. The framework consists of three primary modules: 1) resource compilation, 2) prioritization, and 3) decision. The modules systematically identify, organize, and rank relevant information resources relating to the hazards of dermal exposures to chemicals and risk management strategies. Each module is subdivided into critical elements designed to further delineate the resources based on relevant incident phase and type of information. The DSS framework provides a much needed structure based on contemporary decision analysis principles for 1) documenting key questions for EMO problem formulation and 2) a method for systematically organizing, screening, and prioritizing information resources on dermal hazards, exposures, risk characterization, and management.

Author Biographies

G. Scott Dotson, PhD, CIH

Education and Information Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Naomi L. Hudson, DrPH

Education and Information Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio

Andrew Maier, PhD, DABT, CIH

Department of Environmental Health, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.


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