Accidental or intentional releases of toxic gases can have significant public health consequences and emergency resource demands. Management of exposed individuals during hazardous material incidents should be risk and evidence based, but there are knowledge gaps in relation to dermal absorption of gases and management advice for potentially exposed individuals. Using a modified Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in vitro toxicology protocol with human donor skin, this article reports on two common and odorous chemicals, hydrogen sulphide and phosphine. Results show that undamaged human skin provides a good barrier to hydrogen sulphide (up to 800 ppm) and phosphine (up to 1000 ppm) penetration for up to 30 min exposures, with little variability in the presence of clothing or in elevated temperature and humidity conditions. A practical guideline template for skin decontamination has been developed, and implications of the research for first responders are outlined.
- emergency response
- hydrogen sulphide