Soot keeps you healthy?
Interesting thought from 1854. We're already seeing, both by correlation and by causative mechanism, that cutting soot leads to warming. Quite possibly all
of the warming since 1970, after subtracting obvious natural cycles, was caused by the EPA. Could we also be more susceptible to other types of chemical pollution and microbial diseases because we've eliminated soot?
This was before microbes were well understood, and the author seems to be using the later-disproved miasmal theory of disease. Nevertheless, the basic property of small carbon particles is true. They do absorb or agglutinate many other types of pollution.
I've been wondering about a related subject, based on very limited observation. I've noticed that houses with open flames, like natural gas pilot lights, are less moldy than all-electric houses. I guessed that the flame was burning mold spores, but could it be the soot particles absorbing the spores....?
Or, oppan Darwin style:
(1) What's the unique ingredient of human habitation, all the way back? What's the unique human accomplishment? Not tools, not language. Fire. If you want to talk about "hunter gatherers" and "the savannah" and "paleo diets" and all that, you've got to talk about soot-choked mud huts. We've grown up with smoke. Things go better with smoke.
(2) Folk wisdom: "Don't go out in that snow, you'll catch your death of cold! Stay inside!" ... where the soot is.
(3) What was a universal ingredient of medicinal ceremonies before the pill-pushers took over? Yup. Smoke. Incense. Tobacco.
= = = = =
Later: Amazingly, modern scientists are finally catching up to 1854.
For a long time scientists have known that breathing in soot from vehicles and power plants is bad for us. But the soot itself might not be the problem—at least not entirely. Scientists have found that particles live a "secret life" once released into the atmosphere, picking up toxic gases and other hitchhikers before making their way into our lungs.
What was happening? In a word—oxygen. It makes up about 20 percent of our atmosphere. And a lot of times this oxygen forms something called a hydroxyl radical. This is basically a water molecule, that’s missing one hydrogen atom. So it’s really "jonesing" for an extra hydrogen. It turns out there’s a lot of hydrogen atoms in the atmosphere, attached to molecules that are just sort of hanging around. And a lot of the time, these molecules come from stuff we create—exhaust from buses and cars, weed whackers, and those fumes from spray paint cans. With the help of a little sunlight, the hydroxyl radical can go to work on these molecules.
As usual the moderns are taking it from the wrong fucking angle ... worrying about the harm from the soot instead of rejoicing that it's cleaning the air for us.
Labels: Carbon Cult