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That's why we'll all be sicker in the near future - Walla! health


With rising global temperatures, various microscopic creatures in the air will spread farther, and some may spread morbidity in areas where they have not been found before.

This is why we will all be sicker in the near future

A new Singaporean study has revealed that with rising global temperatures, various microscopic creatures in the air will spread farther, and some may spread morbidity in areas of the world where they have not been found before.

Jonathan Singer, Angle


Thursday, 12 May 2022, 07:12

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In the last two years we have all developed a high awareness of anyone who coughs or sneezes (and for some reason always sits right next to us), and the fact that the air we breathe may contain dangerous viruses that need to be defended against.

However, apart from the corona virus that has taken the world by storm, there are countless microscopic creatures of various kinds in the air around us, some of which can cause disease in humans or plants.

A new study using an innovative method, published by researchers from Singapore, Brazil and Germany, revealed the composition of microorganisms in the air column.

The researchers concluded from the data from the study and previous information that as global temperatures continue to rise due to the climate crisis, various disease agents will multiply and spread around the world to areas where they are not present, and may pose a threat to our health and ability to grow food.

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Like the intestines of humans and other animals, water and soil, the air is an environment where a variety of microorganisms live - microscopic creatures such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.

"When bread is left on the counter in the kitchen, it will be covered in mold within a few days," says Prof. Yoav Yair, dean of the School of Sustainability at Reichman University.

"Where did the spores that caused it come from? Well, they're in the air all the time. We all breathe air that has huge amounts of particles in it."

Prof Stefan Schuster, one of the leaders of the new study, has previously found that Singapore residents breathe between 100,000 and a million microorganisms from about 725 different species every day (most of which are not harmful to humans).

"It can be assumed that in Israel these are similar numbers," says Yair.

How does mold grow so fast on bread?

Bread with mold (Photo: ShutterStock)

The largest concentration of microorganisms in the air is close to the ground, in part of the atmosphere known as the "boundary layer".

"This is the lowest layer of the atmosphere, it is the one that comes in contact with the ground and the surface of the sea and where the largest exchange of energy and materials takes place," Yair explains.

This is not a "permanent" layer, but one whose dimensions vary according to various factors.

According to him, at certain hours of severe air pollution incidents, it is easy to identify the boundary layer.

"When you travel in the morning from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and see a kind of brown soup over Gush Dan - this is the border layer."

Warmer, higher, farther away

In the new study, published in the scientific journal PNAS, the researchers used a 200-meter-high tower with meteorological measurements (including humidity, wind speed, temperature and solar radiation), and a research aircraft equipped with 38 sampling systems that sampled air at various heights, from ground to ground. 3,500 meters, at different times of the day - including its microorganisms.

Next, they analyzed the amount and type of DNA that each sample contained, and drew according to the samples a vertical map (i.e., divided by height) with a high resolution of the presence of microorganisms at different heights during the day.

In fact, researchers have been trying to figure out what affects the height that bacteria and viruses reach - before they fall back toward the ground.

The importance of the answer to this question lies in the fact that the higher a particular microorganism is, the greater the probability that it will land in a place farther from its starting point.

"A basic fact in meteorology is that the wind speed increases as you move away from the surface, because the air close to the ground rubs against it and loses energy," Yair explains.

"Therefore, if the boundary layer reaches higher, the particles in it can move for longer ranges."

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The researchers found that temperature is the only environmental factor that is significant in determining the peak altitude that microorganisms reach in the air during the day.

The explanation for their conclusion is simple to understand when one remembers the simple principle that heat rises above.

During the day, the heat that comes from the sun and is absorbed by the surface of the earth heats the air that is above the ground and produces a certain spread and mixing of the boundary layer in the atmosphere layer that is above it.

"Normally, there are mixing processes in the atmosphere, from the molecular level to the scale of clouds," Yair explains.

"As surface heating increases, so does the boundary layer, and with it comes pollution, dust and bacteria."

Increased risk of spreading diseases

Based on the findings, the researchers warn that a warmer atmosphere - a result of rising global temperatures as part of the climate crisis - increases the risk of disease and plant spread to humans and plants in large areas where they did not exist in the past.

Beyond that, various studies suggest that rising global temperatures are allowing disease agents to survive in areas that were previously too cold for them.

These harmful effects can be seen around the world today.

"Malaria, for example, is sensitive to low temperatures - and today it is spreading to more northern latitudes because the temperature is rising," says Yair.

"A similar phenomenon is also occurring among different species of harmful insects around the world."

Malaria, for example, is sensitive to low temperatures (Photo: ShutterStock)

Rising temperatures are one way in which the climate crisis could lead to rising morbidity.

Another way in which this may occur is due to the changing climate, which Yair researched together with other scientists, is the phenomenon of "lightning storm asthma".

"During the decay of lightning storms, the wind drops and blows many particles of dust, pollen and spores of fungi, some of which are very allergenic," he says. "The climate crisis will increase the incidence of lightning storms and prolong the flowering period of many plants, some of which are allergenic."

That is, he says, there is a high probability of lightning storm asthma events.

Along with the dangers that are expected to be overcome for human health and the agricultural crops on which we rely as the world warms, it is important to remember that most of the microorganisms in the air are not harmful to humans at all.

"Most people get along with the phenomenon, because evolution has made us immune to many of the microorganisms in the air," says Yair, "however, the sensitive and vulnerable populations may suffer from it."

The article was prepared by Zavit - the news agency of the Israeli Association of Ecology and Environmental Sciences

  • health

  • news


  • Climate crisis

  • global warming

  • germs

  • Viruses

Source: walla

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