Particulate Matter Matters

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Science  18 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6181, pp. 257-259
DOI: 10.1126/science.1247348

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  • RE: Magnetic particles in air and biomagnetic monitoring

    Particulate matter (PM) originating from global air pollution and soil (1) contain magnetic particles (basically Iron in the form of magnetite and haematite). Iron nanoparticles/nanocomplexes are widely used in the field of engineering, medicine, agriculture and environment, electronic media, mobile phones, electrical components, sensors, transducers, targeted drug delivery, cancer treatment, magnetic resonance imaging, hyperthermia, water purification, etc. (2). Interestingly, these magnetic particles as biogenic ferrimagnets were initially reported to be present in the organisms like termites (3) and bacteria (4).
    Although, there are diverse sources of magnetic particles, those derived from vehicular combustion are having a size range in macro or nanoparticle. This grain size is particularly dangerous to human health because of its ability to be inhaled into the lungs (5).
    However, plant biodiversity as investigated in an Indo-Burma hotspot region revealed that plant leaves may deposit PM and hence magnetic particles attributes revealed to be acting as proxy for ambient PM as several magnetic properties of leaves were significantly correlated with ambient PM (6, 7).

    1. Maher, B.A., Taylor, R.M. Formation of ultrafine-grained magnetite in soils. Nature 336, 368-370 (1988).
    2. Rai, P.K. and Chutia, B.M., Particulate matter bio-monitoring through magnetic properties of an Indo-Burma hotspot region. Chemistry and ecology DOI:10.1080/...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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