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20 мая 2018, 00:21

Lunar Dust Poses Health Risk for Future Moon Dwellers

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Being an astronaut isn’t always glamorous: Not only might you return home with altered DNA, but a new study reveals the potential dangers of breathing lunar dust.

Researchers at Stony Brook University found that simulated lunar soil is toxic to human lung and mouse brain cells, killing up to 90 percent of neurons.

It’s no secret that exposure to space and zero gravity can screw with people’s bodies. But inhaling noxious dust—even in minuscule quantities—poses an additional, yet oft-overlooked, risk to explorers traveling to the Moon, Mars, or other airless bodies.

“There are risks to extraterrestrial exploration, both lunar and beyond, more than just the immediate risks of space itself,” lead study author Rachel Caston, a geneticist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The Cold War competition for intergalactic domination drove the US to the world’s first Moon landing.

Between 1968 and 1972, NASA conducted manned missions to Earth’s satellite as part of the Apollo program; six touched down men on the pockmarked orb, beginning with Apollo 11 in July 1969.

Omitted from retellings of these historic moments, however, are the allergic reactions lunar dust caused those moonwalking astronauts. After sucking in the fine dust, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt described what he called “lunar hay fever”—sneezing, watery eyes, and a sore throat.

Their recorded experiences, coupled with Stony Brook’s results, suggest prolonged exposure to lunar dust could impair airway and lung function, increasing the risk of serious diseases, according to Bruce Demple.

“If there are trips backs to the Moon that involve stays of weeks, months, or even longer, it probably won’t be possible to eliminate the risk completely,” Demple, a senior study author and biochemist at the School of Medicine, warned.

Previous research has shown breathing toxic soot from volcanic eruptions, dust storms, and coal mines can also cause bronchitis, wheezing, eye irritation, and scarring of lung tissue.

If left untreated, the accumulated particles can damage cells’ DNA, which may cause mutations and lead to cancer.

The full Stony Brook University study was published recently in the American Geophysical Union journal GeoHealth .

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Source: https://www.geek.com/science/lunar-dust-poses-health-risk-for-future-moon-dwellers-1739433/?source=science