• Question: Do you think our lungs will have to adapt in the future because off air polution?

    Asked by Tess Mcauley to Liza on 25 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Liza Selley

      Liza Selley answered on 25 Jun 2018:

      That’s an interesting thought. At the moment our lungs are changing for the worse in response to pollution- children are growing up with underdeveloped lungs and asthma is becoming more common. Also, after episodes of thick pollution we see massive increases in the number of people who die from chest infections.

      I think our lungs could increase their protective defences like the number of white blood cells that they contain or the amount of antioxidants (molecules that fight chemical stress) that they have but this would have unwanted downstream effects. For example, the white blood cells fight pollution by producing chemicals to break them down but the chemicals also break down the alveolar walls which isn’t good. Also the inflammation that this causes gets in the way of gas exchange which is the main purpose of the lung.

      Sadly I think pollution will only harm our lungs 🙁