Changing Matter

The city wears its smog
like a cloak,
each blackened fold
a weathered vestibule
for whispers,
Suspended fragments
woven within
the chemical complexities
of our codependence.

In breath’s precious cradle,
every sigh treads lightly,
pulmonary scribes
rising as silent sentinels
to defy each change
with pen
and tooth
and wall.
Exhalations laced
with scars
of fractured
transformation –
fragmented shadows
cast deep across
the fading prospect
of untainted skies.

This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that particulate matter affects both the molecular functions and physical shape of lung cells.

Air pollution, a major environmental concern, is closely linked to lung diseases due to its particulate matter (PM) content. These tiny particles, varying greatly in chemical composition, are a fundamental component of air pollution and have a known association with various pulmonary health issues. The complexity of PM arises from its diverse chemical makeup, which has been a challenge to fully understand in terms of its impact on human health.

In this study, scientists focused on how PM’s chemical diversity influences human bronchial epithelial cells, a type of cell found in the airways of the lungs. They examined the cells’ response to three different PM mixtures, discovering that each mixture triggered unique changes in cell viability, gene expression, and even cell morphology. Notably, the presence of cadmium, a harmful metal, in higher concentrations in some PM mixtures, was linked to increased DNA damage and significant changes in cell types. This research sheds light on the intricate ways air pollution impacts cellular health and promises to enhance our understanding of pollution’s health impacts, guiding future protective measures and policies.

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