By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “carpet bombing”.
It’s the method used by the US military to spray chemical weapons, such as chlorine gas and napalm, over cities to kill civilians.
It’s used in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and it’s not without controversy.
But a new paper in Nature Communications shows that ceramics have a very different effect on human bodies, even if the chemical compounds don’t cause lasting damage.
The team from University of Warwick in the UK and the University of Bath in the United Kingdom found that ceramic coating, or “cementation”, could block chemical damage in human tissue.
They analysed the effects of ceramic coating on human cells using “natural” microfluidic technologies, and found that it did not block the effects caused by other chemicals.
Instead, it was able to “mask” and delay the effects that occur when chemicals are sprayed on the skin.
“This is a remarkable result, because we had no idea ceramically coated human cells were able to block these effects,” says co-author of the paper, Professor John McDonagh from the University’s School of Biological Sciences.
“What we found was that ceramination is able to disrupt the normal processes that occur in the body, including the uptake of chemicals and their release into the environment.”
The team also found that, in contrast to ceramicals used for the chemical warfare, ceramic coating on humans was more effective at preventing damage to tissue, such that the effects did not appear to be caused by the chemical agents themselves.
What this means is that ceramentation may not only block chemical effects but also block any effects caused from them, says McDonag.
He explains that cerumen coating has been used as a way to mask damage to human tissues from a range of chemicals, including chlorine, mustard gas and other gases.
“If you coat a patient with ceramical coating, that chemical will not be absorbed into the body and that is one of the things that makes it so difficult to do a mass casualty analysis on a mass scale,” he says.
“So ceramico coating may be able to do some things, but it is not the same as ceramicity.”
McDonah and his team are now working on a method to develop a ceraminic coating for the use in bio-engineering.
They are also looking at using ceramices to “breathe” into the bloodstream.