Don’t get me wrong, space travel is awesome, and I would love to go to the moon one day, but as Ernie from Sesame Street says in this song, I wouldn’t want to live there permanently. And now there’s even more reason to rule out the moon as a back-up for when the earth becomes uninhabitable: it seems moon dust might be toxic to humans.
A recent study found that the moon’s fine, powdery dust poses several health hazards. Lunar dust is extremely fine and abrasive, almost like powdered glass. Despite wearing protective gear, Apollo astronauts were plagued by dust which found its way into living and working areas.
Lunar dust particles are small enough to penetrate deep into lung tissues, and the microgravity in space will probably make that even easier. Once inhaled, these lunar dust particles can cause inflammation and increase the risk of certain cancers.
One of the reasons why lunar dust is so abrasive, is because those particles haven’t undergone the same erosion processes as on earth. When skin is exposed to that dust, especially protruding bits like elbows, knees and knuckles, the outer layer of skin is damaged and skin irritation can occur. In fact, lunar dust is so abrasive that it wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on an astronaut’s boot.
Now, if lunar dust can do that to fabric and skin, do you want to imagine what it can do to your eyes? Doesn’t sound fun to me at all…
So, that’s the moon crossed off the list of possible alternative planets. Let’s hope the scientists are working hard on finding other alternatives! I wonder if governments are spending as much money on this as they are on fighting climate change?…