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Showing results in Air pollution changes what bugs colonise our airways

News

Higher levels of particulate pollution may modulate the number and type of bacteria colonising human airways, according to a recent volunteer study from the University of Milan. Nasal swabs taken from 40 people were assessed for the diversity and species of bacteria present via genetic sequencing, and the results were compared with the level of PM recorded at nearby monitoring stations over the 3 previous days. For volunteers exposed to higher PM levels, bacterial diversity was lower, which could affect functions provided to the ‘host’ by certain species.

Research

The storage and handling of coal piles could be contributing to the burden of particulate matter from coal, even before it is burned, according to research from Carnegie Mellon University.

Research

Carbon nanoparticles from road traffic or as engineered nanoparticles may increase the risk of bacterial or viral infection, a study at Edinburgh Napier University has found. Exposure to carbon black nanoparticles, in this case with primary particle size 14 nm, can alter the structure and function of antimicrobial peptides, key components of the immune system and which are upregulated at infection or inflammation sites. This can then potentially lead to reduced capacity to withstand infection by reducing the effectiveness of the body’s immune system.

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Recent plans to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040 are laudable, but do not go far enough to prevent particulate air pollution, which may lead to significant public health issues even at levels below limit values.

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A ‘natural experiment’ provided by the six-month eruption of the volcano Holuhraun in Iceland may help to constrain uncertainties surrounding the impact of anthropogenic aerosols on climate.
Researchers at the University of Exeter studied the plume of the eruption, which produced more sulphur dioxide than all 28 EU countries’ anthropogenic emissions combined over the eruption period, using satellite imagery and via climate system modelling.

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Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem and a major threat to health worldwide, especially in ‘gram-negative’ bacteria which have two cell membranes. Developments in targeted drug delivery for cancer treatment, involving ‘tandem peptides’, which act first to allow drugs to pass bacterial membranes before the active agent kills tumour cells, have been adapted by MIT researchers to effectively treat bacterial infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium which can cause pneumonia, in the lungs of mice.

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