It is well known that inhaling dust particles causes disease. Ever since the early 19th century it has been recognised that inhaling large amounts of coalmine dust causes lung disease in miners. In the mid 20th Century London smogs claimed thousands of lives and the soot particles were suspected as being part of the problem, along with pollutant gases such a sulphur dioxide present in the pollution cloud. In the late 20th century it began to emerge that, during pollution episodes, deaths were not only arising in people with lung disease but also in people with heart disease and that the particles were the most harmful component of the ambient air pollution cloud. This lead to research demonstrating that small particles possess enhanced harmfulness and also that small particles might be driving adverse effects by escaping from the lungs to accumulate at other sites in the body. Small particles, also called nanoparticles, are small enough to migrate to the brain and to the walls of the blood vessels, triggering concern that air pollution may increase degenerative brain disease and coronary artery disease, both major killers in the general population. We will discuss this history and the latest data on the harmful effects of small particles at sites other than the lungs and alternative explanations for the mechanism of harm.
Suitable for age 18+. Cash bar available
Museum access until 9pm
What is Café Scientifique?
Café Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to have a conversation about the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.
The first Cafes Scientifique in the UK were held in Leeds in 1998. From there, cafes gradually spread across the country. Currently, some seventy or so cafes meet regularly to hear scientists or writers on science talk about their work and discuss it with diverse audiences.
Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.