Toxicity of lunar dust

D. Linnarsson, J. Carpenter, B. Fubini, P. Gerde, D. Loftus, K. Prisk, U. Staufer, E. Tranfield, W. van Westrenen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The formation, composition and physical properties of lunar dust are incompletely characterised with regard to human health. While the physical and chemical determinants of dust toxicity for materials such as asbestos, quartz, volcanic ashes and urban particulate matter have been the focus of substantial research efforts, lunar dust properties, and therefore lunar dust toxicity may differ substantially. In this contribution, past and ongoing work on dust toxicity is reviewed, and major knowledge gaps that prevent an accurate assessment of lunar dust toxicity are identified. Finally, a range of studies using ground-based, low-gravity, and in situ measurements is recommended to address the identified knowledge gaps. Because none of the curated lunar samples exist in a pristine state that preserves the surface reactive chemical aspects thought to be present on the lunar surface, studies using this material carry with them considerable uncertainty in terms of fidelity. As a consequence, in situ data on lunar dust properties will be required to provide ground truth for ground-based studies quantifying the toxicity of dust exposure and the associated health risks during future manned lunar missions. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

special issue ‘Scientific Preparations for Lunar Exploration’


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