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SOURCE: The Sydney Morning Herald

DATE: November 26, 2017

SNIP: Coal combustion, already one of the main sources of pollution, has also been found to release nano particles of titanium that are potentially harmful to humans and other life forms, researchers say.

The substance had previously been considered rare, located in mudstones in a small area of western Greenland, moon rocks and in some meteorites.

It turns out, however, that forms of titanium oxides “are essentially a ubiquitous accessory phase in all coals worldwide“, the researchers said in a paper published in Nature Communications.

The authors of the paper emphasised that impacts of the titanium suboxides still needed to be “thoroughly tested for their toxicity in the human lung”, but leading health experts say there is reason for concern.

Just as lead can have detrimental effects when it enters the bloodstream, other substances such as titanium could be expected to impact health.

“These are good reasons to expect they will cause impacts,” said Professor Morawska, who is also co-chair of a World Health Organisation committee preparing to update global guidelines on ultrafine particles. “And these are good reasons to do something about it.”

“These are ones that can get into the brain and cause dementia, or get into the liver, the kidneys, and pass through the placenta,” Dean Schraufnagel, Executive Director of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, said.