Tram Ngoc Cao

Document Type


Date of Award



College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (COSET)

Degree Name

MS in Biology

First Advisor

Alamelu Sundaresan


With the ongoing successes of space missions, greater pressure has been made into decoding the impact of space particulates and residue upon human pulmonary physiological responses. To date, lunar dust inhalation toxicity has been taken to be one of the more worrisome consequences of aeronautic travels; the primary reason being that much remains unknown about its potential harms and/or risks. Despite constant protocols to ensure that no undocumented crosstalk between space debris and Earth's atmosphere are occurring, the probability of space dust and other residual substances entering into the environment still remains high. A full understanding into the complete effects of 1 2 these particulates upon human respiratory pathways, both in space and on Earth, serves to offer clarity into the role that they play and into the countermeasures that will need to be taken as a result. Although preliminary studies into lunar dust and its simulant (JSC-1A-VF) have been performed, mechanisms of its route in oxidative/cellular stress, DNA damage, immunosuppression, and heavy metal toxicity are not fully elucidated. In vitro studies utilizing a specific human lung epithelial cell line, Calu-3 to explore the bio-environmental effects of bronchiole airways revealed that these cells are unable to remain impervious once exposed to varying concentrations of given particulates. The cytotoxicity of the particles upon the cells was measured both qualitatively and quantitatively, with particular emphasis into cell viability, induced vacuole formation, and penetration of cell membranes in the respiratory system. While the lunar dust simulant (JSC-1 A-VF) . served as the project's primary focus, comparative reference dusts (Mn-U-Silica 5 Quartz; Ti02-Rutile) used also showed nuances as well. Additional preliminary tests into the immunological impact of dust particles further revealed increased expression in P/GF, a known angiogenic marker, prompting examination into other mechanistic and behavioral pathways of these particulates in cells. A proper assessment of the harms and hazards of lunar dust and particle inhalation offers a means towards developing the necessary countermeasures for their effects in future pre- and post-space missions