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A dusty dilemma
  1. Moondust | Definition of Moondust by Merriam-Webster
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  5. Lunar soil

In their new study, a team of researchers from Stony Brook University in New York wanted to find out just how dangerous a lungful of moon dust could really be. Because actual lunar soil is hard to come by on Earth, the team used five Earth-sourced simulants to represent the dust found on various parts of the moon's terrain. The simulants included volcanic ash from Arizona, dust skimmed from a Colorado lava flow and a glassy, lab-made powder designed by the U.

The team gauged the effects of moon dust on human organs by mixing their soil samples directly with human lung cells and mouse brain cells grown in their lab. The scientists ground each soil sample to three different degrees of graininess, the finest of which was just a few micrometers wide smaller than the width of a human hair and easily capable of being sucked up into human lungs.

When the team took stock of their cells 24 hours later, they found that every soil type had caused some degree of brain and lung cell death. The finest-grain samples proved most lethal, killing up to 90 percent of the cells that had been exposed to them. Cells that weren't decimated outright showed signs of DNA damage that could lead to cancer or neurodegenerative diseases if not repaired, the researchers wrote.

Moondust | Definition of Moondust by Merriam-Webster

But as humans explore the moon in future decades, chance exposures are likely, the researchers wrote. Fortunately, NASA has taken this problem seriously for a long time and is developing several dust-mitigation methods.

Jaymes Young - Moondust [Official Audio]

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Lunar soil

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