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Did you know that moon dust is a hazardous material?
Posted: 13 July 2012 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I love the comic SCI-ENCE (http://sci-ence.org) because I almost always learn something new or a new way of looking at something. Today, they depart a bit form their usual format with two separate comics, both of them good, both of them about the solar system. But the one about lunar regolith and the explanation below really caught my interest. I was a huge fan of the Apollo missions and devoured everything I could about them. But I did not know the following about our nearest neighbor:

Yesterday Pop-Sci had an article about simulations showing that moon dust is toxic. It’s not what you think, though. You won’t die from drinking a moonshake, but inhalation is another matter. This isn’t really a new discovery. We have been studying moon rocks for decades, and it is nasty. Since the initial moon landings, astronauts have reported on the strange qualities of lunar regolith. Due to its electrostatic charge, regolith has a propensity to stick to everything. Not only that, the dust actually floats just above the surface of the moon. This static clinginess caused the Apollo astronauts to track the stuff in with them when they came back into the lander. Once inside, they discovered some of it’s more irritating qualities.

The two astronauts had just returned from a long moonwalk around the Taurus-Littrow valley, near the Sea of Serenity. Dusty footprints marked their entry into the spaceship. That dust became airborne–and smelly. Later, Schmitt felt congested and complained of “lunar dust hay fever.” His symptoms went away the next day; no harm done. He soon returned to Earth and the anecdote faded into history.

Some history: The moon has no atmosphere, so over it’s lifetime, our companion has been pounded by every little space rock that comes its way, giving it the pock-marked features we know and love. Also subsequently causing it to be covered by a layer of fine, glasslike particles. When I worked in metal sculpture, and to a greater extent, glass coldworking, dust inhalation was always a safety concern due to the sharp, tiny bits getting embedded in the alveoli of the lungs. Future settlements on the Moon, and perhaps even Mars, face this same problem, as moon dust will likely cause similar, silicosis-like symptoms.

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Posted: 13 July 2012 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That makes sense.  In addition to the problems from the physical size and shape that FreeinKY pointed out, there’s also this.

Most chemical reactions work much faster if at all with water being around.  Earth-bound stuff have usually already reacted and are down to the relatively inert products.  If you start with materials that haven’t been exposed to water, they are just waiting to react when they do.  Since we are water based organisms, as soon as we breathe any of that stuff it goes crazy in our lungs causing chemical irritation.

Occam

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Posted: 13 July 2012 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Not for cats.

a.aaa-cat-astronaut.jpg

psik

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Posted: 13 July 2012 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Occam. - 13 July 2012 05:01 PM

That makes sense.  In addition to the problems from the physical size and shape that FreeinKY pointed out, there’s also this.

Most chemical reactions work much faster if at all with water being around.  Earth-bound stuff have usually already reacted and are down to the relatively inert products.  If you start with materials that haven’t been exposed to water, they are just waiting to react when they do.  Since we are water based organisms, as soon as we breathe any of that stuff it goes crazy in our lungs causing chemical irritation.

Occam

Wow.  Another one of those “of course why didn’t I think of that moments.”


Is that why we have consensus science
because it takes a lot of people and perspectives to catch the countless details within the folds within folds of complexity.

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Posted: 13 July 2012 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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psikeyhackr - 13 July 2012 05:26 PM

Not for cats.

a.aaa-cat-astronaut.jpg

psik

HA! I CAN CLEARLY SEE THE CAT WALKING BY.  Notice how all the news reports on this astounding revelation have been suppressed?  What more proof do you need, cats got there first!    shock

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Posted: 13 July 2012 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 13 July 2012 07:03 PM
psikeyhackr - 13 July 2012 05:26 PM

Not for cats.

a.aaa-cat-astronaut.jpg

psik

HA! I CAN CLEARLY SEE THE CAT WALKING BY.  Notice how all the news reports on this astounding revelation have been suppressed?  What more proof do you need, cats got there first!    shock

You know that this means? big surprise

Cats are aliens, and they genetically engineered us for their amusement - that’s why the Egyptians were so afraid of them!

I’m calling the history channel. LOL

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Posted: 14 July 2012 12:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It also smells like spent gunpowder according to the astronauts.

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Posted: 14 July 2012 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Sounds reasonable.  I’ve never smelld spent gunpowder, but I’m guessing that a part of the odor is from sulfur dioxide, and quite probably a component of moon dust is sulfites so S02 is released when it contacts the moist mucus in one’s nose.

Occam

Sorry about the mispelling of odor, George. LOL

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Posted: 14 July 2012 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam. - 14 July 2012 02:02 PM

Sounds reasonable.  I’ve never smelld spent gunpowder, but I’m guessing that a part of the odor is from sulfur dioxide, and quite probably a component of moon dust is sulfites so S02 is released when it contacts the moist mucus in one’s nose.

Occam

Sorry about the mispelling of odor, George. LOL

Yes, you have.  Some fireworks have a similar smell.

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Posted: 14 July 2012 10:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Oh yeah, and that smell is definitely a mix of sulfur dioxide and a few other random materials.

Occam

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Posted: 15 July 2012 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 14 July 2012 10:36 PM

Oh yeah, and that smell is definitely a mix of sulfur dioxide and a few other random materials.

Occam

And it is one of the main reasons I don’t attending fireworks on the 4th of July- it gives me terrible sinus headaches. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the “light show”, but rather I don’t enjoy the massive sinus headache that comes from breathing the sulfur dioxide.

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Posted: 15 July 2012 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Sounds reasonable.  I’ve never smelld spent gunpowder, but I’m guessing that a part of the odor is from sulfur dioxide, and quite probably a component of moon dust is sulfites so S02 is released when it contacts the moist mucus in one’s nose.

Occam

Sorry about the mispelling of odor, George.

Speaking of George, where the hell is he? Did the smileys fiasco run him off? I had heard that moon dust smelled like that and as one who smelled lots of gunpowder, mostly black the snell is akin to the scent of rotten eggs, Yuch! Sulphur is one of the three ingredients.


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Posted: 15 July 2012 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Strangely enough, the smell of rotten eggs (sulfur) comes from hospitals too.  Several years ago (the 80s) I commented on the rotten egg smell coming from one of our local hospitals.  My mother said hospitals sometimes use sulfur to clean after some infectious diseases.  Years later, my older son noticed the same thing and I told him what his grandmother said to me, noting it was his grandmother who said it.  I cannot fathom why a hospital, in this day and age would use sulfur to sterilize after an infectious disease in this day and age.  What would necessitate the use of sulfur in an age in which we have better things to disinfect and sterilize with?

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Posted: 15 July 2012 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Mriana - 15 July 2012 10:34 AM

Strangely enough, the smell of rotten eggs (sulfur) comes from hospitals too.  Several years ago (the 80s) I commented on the rotten egg smell coming from one of our local hospitals.  My mother said hospitals sometimes use sulfur to clean after some infectious diseases.  Years later, my older son noticed the same thing and I told him what his grandmother said to me, noting it was his grandmother who said it.  I cannot fathom why a hospital, in this day and age would use sulfur to sterilize after an infectious disease in this day and age.  What would necessitate the use of sulfur in an age in which we have better things to disinfect and sterilize with?

At a guess, its to keep the particular nasties from building up a resistance to cleaning agents.  Drug resistant bacteria are such a problem in hospitals that they’re considering putting copper/brass and silver plating on items, since those metals tend to be toxic to most mold and bacteria.

It might well be that there’s some kind of bug which is particularly vulnerable to sulfur and if its a particularly nasty beastie, you certainly don’t want it only mostly dead, but completely dead.

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Posted: 15 July 2012 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Now that makes sense and would explain why hospitals use it today.  Still, I find it a very nasty and disgusting smell to come from a hospital.

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Posted: 15 July 2012 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I suppose they might have burned sulfur to fumigate a room in the distant past, but there are a lot better disinfectants. Washing things down with bleach then closing the room so the hypochloric acid vapors build up should wipe out just about all life in the room.  Setting up an ozone generator and closing the room would also do a great job. 

But, in any case, when finished they should open the windows and use a good sized fan to suck all the stuff out so there would be no smell left.  Sounds like the people in your hospitals are too busy, too lazy, or too uninformed to do all that, Mriana.

I’m sure Asanta and Macgyver can shed much more expert light on this.

Occam

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