The moon is a dangerous place. No water, atmosphere, very little gravity. It even houses an evil Transformer voiced by Leonard Nimoy.
A new study published in GeoHeath discusses an additional danger of extended time on the moon; “lunar hay fever.” See, soil on the moon is very toxic. According to the study, up to 90 percent of human lung cells and mouse neurons died when exposed to particles that mimic lunar soil. This suggests inhaling moon dust, even in small amounts, could be very harmful for an astronaut. Yet another reason for an astronaut to never take off their helmet on the surface of the moon (in addition to the lack of oxygen).
The risks of toxic moon dust are nothing new to scientists. When US astronauts first visited the moon during the Apollo missions, the moon soil would often stick to their space suits. After inhaling the dust, astronaut Harrison Schmitt suffered symptoms of sneezing, watery eyes, and a sore throat.
“If there are trips back to the moon that involve stays of weeks, months or even longer, it probably won’t be possible to eliminate that risk completely,” says Bruce Demple, a biochemist and the senior author of the study.
Future astronauts could suffer bronchitis and other significant health problems which makes a permanent colony on the moon even more challenging. “Lunar hay fever” could be a serious problem for moon inhabitants.
Who would have thought a lifeless rock floating in space would be so dangerous?