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ELF: New research on effects of ozone on the fatty lining of the lungs

A recent study published in the journal Langmuir discovered that ozone causes severe lung problems by attacking fat molecules in the lung which line its surface. These molecules are vital in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide as they prevent the wet surfaces of the lung from collapsing.

Ozone, which is mostly produced in the upper atmosphere, but also can form at ground level as a result of burning fossil fuels, is known to harm lung systems and is linked to asthma and bronchitis.

Researchers in London used a model of the lung’s surface to explore the effects of ozone. They used a level of ozone similar to what you might find in a polluted city in the summer. By monitoring different parts of the fat molecule separately, they collected detailed information about the structure of the lung surface.

Researchers then adapted the model to represent the lung of people with different forms of chronic lung disease to try to understand why ozone seems to affect them worse than others.

The findings show that ozone exposure on our lungs would certainly damage the ability of them to process oxygen and carbon dioxide, and could account for the respiratory problems associated with ozone poisoning.

Originally posted on 10 May 2013

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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