Researchers plan to examine 'lunar hay fever' that hit astronauts

An European Space Agency (ESA) research programme plans to examine "lunar hay fever."
By Tyler MacDonald | Jul 06, 2018
Scientists are planning to examine "lunar hay fever," which is the nasal congestion and sneezing that occurs in astronauts after Moon dust that makes its way into their lungs. The research stems from the European Space Agency (ESA) research programme, which consists of experts from around the world.

"We don't know how bad this dust is," says Kim Prisk, a pulmonary physiologist from the University of California that is taking part in the research. "It all comes down to an effort to estimate the degree of risk involved."

"Particles 50 times smaller than a human hair can hang around for months inside your lungs," Prisk said. "The longer the particle stays, the greater the chance for toxic effects."

In order to conduct the experiment, the team is using simulated Moon dust that is created from materials obtained from a German volcanic region.

"The rarity of the lunar glass-like material makes it a special kind of dust," said Erin Tranfield, a biologist and expert in dust toxicity. "We need to grind the source material but that means removing the sharp edges."

But the lunar soil does have its benefits.

"You can heat it to produce bricks that can offer shelter for astronauts," said science advisor Aidan Cowley. "Oxygen can be extracted from the soil to sustain human missions on the Moon."

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