London: Living on the moon is surely humanity’s goal but our constant neighbour may not treat us so well as the very dust on our lunar partner is poisonous to humans, researchers say.
The surface of the moon is coated in a layer of thick, undisturbed dust, which is not only ultra-fine, and therefore easy to inhale, but can increase the risk of various cancers, similar to breathing asbestos and volcanic ash.
“The Apollo astronauts reported undesirable effects affecting the skin, eyes and airways that could be related to exposure to the dust that had adhered to their space suits during their extravehicular activities and was subsequently brought into their spacecraft,” the Daily Mail quoted Researchers from the University of Tennessee, referring to Neil Armstrong’s first steps onto the moon, as saying.
Humans have only spent, at max, two or three days on the moon in total, and this time has often been spent in spaceships or airtight suits.
But with long-term exposure, the team says that inhalation would be harmful even when wearing protective gear, as dust trails the astronauts back into living quarters.
Once inside the lungs the super-fine, sharp-edged lunar dust could health issues, affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system, causing airway inflammation and increasing the risks of various cancers.
The dust, subjected to millenia of UV radiation, would penetrate deep into the lungs, and micro-gravity would only help in bringing the dust deep into the lungs.
The sharp ‘regolith’ of the moon is also believed to be as sharp as glass, without years of erosion like on earth, causing skin and eye damage.
A scratched cornea, while perhaps just an irritant on Earth, could cause havoc on a space mission.