Jesper Bo Nielsen, University of Southern Denmark, explained the mechanisms by which toxins from smoke and soot can be taken into the body through skin, and the precautions which can be taken to reduce uptake.
Skin uptake is very variable on different parts of the body, between different individuals and for different chemicals, so highly complex to assess risks. However, uptake is significantly increased by heat (40% higher uptake of some chemicals with a 5°C skin surface temperature increase) and by humidity (can occur within protective clothing). A number of studies have shown that PPE (personal protective equipment) can reduce skin exposure considerably, and has improved greatly over recent years. However, cleaning of both equipment (hoses, vehicles) and clothing is essential, as are contacts with clothing as it is removed, but in many cases procedures are today not in place.
Pleil et al (2014) J. Breath Res. 8 037107; Fent et al (2014) Ann Occup Hyg 58; 830-845; Fernando et al (2016) Environ Sci Tehnol 50: 1536-1543; Kirk and Logan (2015) J Occup Environ Hyg 12: 227-234