American scientists conducted a detailed analysis of atmospheric air aerosols and found in the clouds a large number of fragments of spores of fungi, which can cause humans allergies and asthma. The results of the study are published in the journal of Science Advances.
Employees of the University of California, Irvine (USA) conducted atmospheric air tests in Oklahoma in 2016. Using a special device, they collected tiny particles measuring 20-60 nanometers suspended in the air and studied their composition by placing a platinum thread on the surface with the help of a mass spectrometer.
For scientists, it was a complete surprise when in the composition of thin dust particles of the atmosphere they found a large number of fragments of spores of fungi. The authors suggest that these fragments were previously unknown because they are very small in size – no more than 30 nanometers. Atmospheric studies were conducted in August-September over the agricultural area.
According to the results of the measurements, it turned out that the content of the fragments of the dispute in the atmosphere was many times higher than acceptable norms. Identified formations pose a serious threat to humans – due to their tiny size, they can easily penetrate the lungs, causing allergies and asthma.
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To find out the mechanism of saturation of air with spores, the scientists conducted an experiment, the results of which showed that getting into the air spores of fungi absorb moisture, swell and then break into fragments with a diameter of about 30 nanometers.
“The appearance of large amounts of atmospheric nanoparticles is usually associated with gas reactions in the atmosphere, where particles grow from gas molecules rather than form when larger particles are destroyed,” Michael Lawler’s words are quoted in a press release. ), the first author of the study. “It was unexpected to identify the fragments of fungi – pieces of spores that burst after swelling in a damp state.”
The results of the study help to explain why the condition of people with asthma deteriorates in rainy and wet weather.
According to the researchers, these nanoparticles are involved in the formation of icy clouds, playing the role of nuclear swells around which water molecules gather much faster than around intact cells measuring thousands of nanometers. This is how ice crystals are formed, from which clouds are formed. The experiment confirmed the formation of ice around these disputes in a very short period of time.
“Large undamaged biological cells are extremely rare in the atmosphere, and fungi nanoparticles, on the contrary, are very common and can play a significant role in the formation of ice clouds,” Lawler says.
Scientists plan to continue studying the relationship between organic particles and cloud formation, which should contribute to better weather forecasting and climate modeling.