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2.8 bn risk ill health from home air pollution: research
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Sept 03, 2014

Sweat plus polyester clothing equals rank fumes
Ghent, Belgium (UPI) Sep 3, 2014 - Freshly secreted sweat is mostly odorless, its salty chains of fatty acids are too big to be volatile. But once out in the real world -- soaked up by a shirt -- those chains are broken down by bacteria, creating molecules that reek.

As it turns out, some shirts encourage more of those rank molecules than others. According to a new study by researchers at Ghent University, in Belgium, polyester, when compared to cotton, serves as a superior host to the kinds of bacteria that best break down sweat's fatty acid chains and churn out foul-smelling molecules.

Scientists arrived at their conclusion after studying the shirts of 26 healthy bicyclers after an hour-long workout. The shirts were analyzed for their microbial makeup and given the smell test by a separate panel. The nose and microscope concluded the same thing: sweaty polyester smells worse than sweaty cotton.

Researchers say the main bacterial culprit in this smell-producing process is micrococci.

"They are known for their enzymatic potential to transform long-chain fatty acids, hormones, and amino acids into smaller -- volatile -- compounds, which have a typical malodor," explained study author Chris Callewaert. "The micrococci are able to grow better on polyester."

The work of Callewaert and his colleagues is set to be published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology in November.

Callewaert advises people with body odor, and says wearing cotton might help minimize post-work smelliness. He also tells his clients to stop applying so much antiperspirant, which -- for biochemical reasons -- can exacerbate the problem, not solve it. Try deodorant instead.

Ultimately, Callewaert would like to find a way to solve the problem completely, not just mask it. He wants to do so by transporting the non-smell-producing relatives of sweat-eating microbes to the skin of those with serious BO problems. He says early experiments toward this end have been promising.

Nearly three billion people risk ill health and early death merely from breathing the air in their homes that is polluted by fires made for cooking and heating, researchers said Wednesday.

Some 40 percent of the world's population, mainly in Africa and Asia, use wood, charcoal or coal to cook, warm and light their homes, according to a review published by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal.

"These smoky, dirty fuels are often used in an open fire or simple stove, resulting in high levels of household air pollution in poorly ventilated homes," said a statement.

Led by Stephen Gordon of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and William Martin of Ohio State University, the team concluded that 600-800 million families worldwide are at higher risk of respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, asthma, lung cancer and other ailments as a result of the air they breathe at home.

Studies in India have found that household air pollution can be three times higher than on a typical London Street, and well above the World Health Organization's recommended safety levels.

"Estimates suggest that household air pollution killed 3.5 to four million people in 2010," wrote the team.

On current exposure rates, about 2.8 billion people worldwide are considered to be at risk of premature death from breathing polluted air in their own homes.

The researchers said there was low awareness of the risks, and warned that providing safer alternatives was not the only answer.

"In communities where solid fuel cooking methods are currently the norm, cleaner fuel and cooking methods need to be at least as affordable, efficient and long-lasting as the traditional-style methods they replace."


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