Lunar Dust Can Cause Lung Cancer, New Study Finds


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Living in space is not an easy task at all. Apart from the difficulty that a person faces to get there, the day to day living is not easy either. A new study also discovered that even in the oxygen habitats, the lunar dust can affect human lungs very quickly thus leading to several health problems. If a person stays exposed to the lunar dust for a long time, there are chances that it will impair the airway and lung function, creating diseases like bronchitis. The lunar dust can also cause inflammation in the lungs which will increase the risk of cancer.

The dust on the moon is not like it is on earth. Since the earth has a protective atmosphere while the moon doesn’t have it. The lunar soil frequently gets its upper particles charged from the sun, known as solar wind. When they hit the moon, the solar particles charge the lunar soil electrostatically. This is just like the phenomenon in which the static charges are created on someone’s hair by rubbing balloon on them. Scientists were aware of the lunar dirt’s unusual properties for several years. When the crew of Apollo 11 landed, the astronauts noted that “particles covered everything and a stain remained even after our best attempts to brush it off.” The dust maintained a distinct pungent odor like gunpowder noted when helmet removed.” 

Bruce Demple, a biochemist at Stony Brook and senior author of the new study said, “If there are trips back to the moon that involves stays of weeks, months or even longer, it probably won’t be possible to eliminate that risk completely.” The new study exposed the human lung cells and mouse brain cells to the sample of the soil which was a copy of the original lunar dust. The cells were grown under controlled conditions. The findings of the scientists concluded that “when inhaled, the dust decimated the lung and mouse cells up to 90 percent. In the case of the human lung cells, the damage was too catastrophic to fully measure. The simulated lunar dust even damaged the cells at a DNA level.” The property of the lunar dust which makes it difficult to breathe also make it stick to everything which means that it is difficult to prevent it from going into our lungs easily.

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