Published 21. 06. 2022
Ultrafine dust penetrates the brain. Czech scientists are developing a detector to warn firefighters about it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 99 percent of people on Earth breathe polluted air that does not meet the limits for pollutants. That's why the WHO tightened the limits it monitors last year. The most harmful are the so-called ultrafine dust particles, for which there are no limits yet. Experts, including scientists from the IEM CAS, are developing a device to measure them.
Conventional detectors detect dust particles around two and a half micrometres in size, so-called PM 2.5, which are known to have poisonous substances attached. But there is already discussion that it will be important to monitor even smaller particles and their effects in the future.
"It turns out that even the particles themselves can induce oxidative stress. It's not just a question of what is attached to the particles," points out Ing. Jan Topinka, CSc., DSc. from the IEM CAS.
In collaboration with foreign colleagues, Jan Topinka's team is investigating, for example, how ultrafine dust particles can affect the development of Alzheimer's disease. They are so small that they penetrate the lungs into the blood and the brain through the olfactory tissue.
Concurrently, scientists are developing a device that could detect ultrafine dust quickly. It would be used, for example, by firefighters, who often move around smouldering fires without protective gear when investigating fires.
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(available only in Czech)