Questions for ‘Tiny air pollutants inflame airways and harm heart’

A street scene in India, a nation where crowds of people, traffic and industry frequently lead to heavy air pollution.


To accompany feature “Tiny air pollutants inflame airways and harm heart”


Before Reading: 

1.  Very few communities around the world are totally devoid of air pollution. What types affect the air in your community?

2.  Can you see pollutants (as in haze or smog), smell any pollutants or identify any apparent health effects from exposure to these pollutants?

During Reading:

1.  What are airborne particulates and what types of materials may they consist of?

2.  What are symptoms of sinusitis and for the condition to be considered chronic, how long must those symptoms last?

3.  In the research by Murray Ramanathan, how big were the particulates and what were the exposure levels meant to simulate?

4.  What did the rinse water from exposed mice show and what did those findings mean in terms of health?

5.  What signs of harm did the nose and sinus tissues show under a microscope?

6.  Why did Mark Miller’s team use gold particles? What advantages might those particles have over particulate pollution found in outdoor air?

7.  What evidence did these researchers have that the “faux” pollutants could — and did — move around the body?

8.  What additional information did Miller’s team get from the surgery patients? What did it tell them about the likely harmful effects of tiny air pollutants?

9.  Can clear skies tell you whether the air contains harmful quantities of air pollution? Cite data from the article to explain your reasoning.

After Reading: 

1.  Some community groups and industry groups will argue that outdoor air pollution in a particular community is not high enough to kill people. Whether or not that is true, what do these new types of data say about the risks posed by levels of air pollution to which many people are regularly exposed?

2.  People in Asia often wear masks as a way to avoid breathing in toxic air pollutants. Do some research on the size of the pores (holes) in the fabric used to make various types of face filters. How do they compare with size of coarse-, fine- and ultra-fine particulates? What does this tell you about how well those filters might work in shielding the lungs from those particulates?