Bacteria could make China's smog worse: microorganisms that can be harmful to human health multiply and thicken the pollution of Beijing, experts warn
- Clumps of bacteria bloom in a poisonous blanket of heavy smog in the Chinese cities
- Smog season starts in November, when more coal is burned to produce power
- Scientists discovered that when the haze was worse, the amount of bacteria increased
- The researchers traced many of the species back to wastewater treatment plants
Bacteria multiply in the heavy smog of China causing the layer of pollution to become thicker and may even pose a threat to human health, scientists warn.
Large cities – especially in the third world – such as Beijing are shrouded in a heavy, toxic smog of burning coal and vehicle exhaust fumes.
Smog season starts around November in the country, when houses and electricity companies burn more coal for electricity and heating, which are trapped over the city.
Experts say that bacteria in the air can cause diseases and can influence allergies by releasing volatile organic chemicals as waste.
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Bacteria in the heavy smog of China can multiply and even pose a threat to themselves, scientists warn. Large cities such as Beijing are shrouded in a heavy, toxic smog that comes from pollution caused by burning coal and vehicle exhaust fumes (stock image)
Professor Maosheng Yao from Peking University in Beijing wanted to understand how the bacteria deal with each other in smog.
It follows a study from 2016 that found that clumps of bacteria often occurred during severe fog in the sky above Beijing.
His team collected samples from the air during four different types of smog episodes, varying from low to high in 2017 and 2018 and examined the bacteria present.
Not only did they find that there was a much larger amount of bacteria when the haze was worse, but that can survive up to 70 percent of microorganisms and multiply in the laboratory.
They also discovered that the micro-organisms changed as the smog deteriorated, with some species occurring less frequently while others became more abundant.
"This is the first time I've actually seen such information," said Frank Kelly, an Environmental Health professor at King's College London who was not involved in the study, to NewScientist.
We introduce these different bacteria into the environment, perhaps for the first time, without fully understanding the implications. & # 39;
Smog season starts around November in the country, when houses and electricity companies burn more coal for electricity and heating, which are trapped over the city. Pictured here, two women wear protective masks in Shanghai (stock image)
Scientists found a larger amount of bacteria when the haze was worse and that up to 70 percent of the micro-organisms could survive and multiply in the laboratory. Pictured here, cycling people or walking on the iconic old wall in Xi'an, Shaanx in northwestern China (stock image)
Professor Yao suggests that the reason for this is that the bacteria feed on polluting chemicals such as sulphates and nitrates.
Although it sounds like the bacteria that feed on the chemicals is a good thing, Professor Yao says it only replaces one polluter with another.
The bacteria can also form more particulate matter, which is one of the most dangerous forms of pollution, by clumping together.
Professor Yao found that the microbes are released volatile organic chemicals as waste.
WHAT ARE VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS AND WHAT ARE THEIR EFFECTS FOR HEALTH?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases of certain solids or liquids.
VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have adverse health effects in the short and long term.
Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors, up to ten times higher than outdoors.
VOC's are radiated through a wide range of products with thousands.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products.
Paints, varnishes and waxes all contain organic solvents, as well as many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products.
Fuels consist of organic chemicals.
All these products can release organic compounds while you use them and to a certain extent when they are stored.
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects differs greatly from those that are highly toxic to those with no known health effect.
As with other pollutants, the magnitude and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors, including the level of exposure and the duration of exposure.
Health effects may include: irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; headache, loss of coordination and nausea; damage to the liver, the kidneys and the central nervous system.
Some organic substances can also cause cancer in animals and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
He also suggested that smog bacteria in the air can cause diseases and affect people's allergies.
The researchers traced much of the species back to a pharmaceutical factory that produces medicines using artificial bacteria and a local wastewater treatment plant, which uses bacteria to process waste.
He warned that we should control the industrial use of bacteria to help reduce air pollution.
Researchers discovered that the microorganisms changed as the smog deteriorated, with some species occurring less frequently as others became more common. Here, traffic and pollution on the highway near the financial district of Xian (stock image)
The researchers have led many of the species back to a pharmaceutical factory that uses artificial bacteria to make medicines and a local wastewater treatment plant, which uses bacteria to process waste (stock image).