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Air pollutants enter body through skin

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Although scientists have largely viewed skin as an unimportant portal to blood for toxic air pollutants, new human data show that skin can surpass lungs as a route of entry.

For some toxic air pollutants, more can get into the body through the skin than via breathing, new human data indicate.

The natural assumption is that inhalation is the primary route by which air pollutants invade the body. Each breath delivers those chemicals to the blood, which courses through the lungs’ tiniest airways. But the body’s biggest organ is the skin, and recent studies show “that we’re big sponges for these chemicals,” says John Kissel of the University of Washington in Seattle.

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