Traces of iron that are breathed in along with other particulate matter may not be as harmless to lung function as previously thought, according to research involving University of Western Australia.

The scientists built on previous research which indicated that geogenic (earth derived) particles caused an inflammatory response in the lungs once it is breathed in.

They then set out to determine what characteristic of the particles caused the response and what that meant in terms of lung health by exposing mice to 100 micrograms of particles collected from surface soils.