Qomolangma expedition explores health issues at ultra-high altitude – Xinhua

Aerial photo taken on May 1, 2022 shows members of a scientific research team walking towards the East Rongbuk Glacier on Mount Qomolangma.

China has launched a comprehensive new scientific expedition to Mount Qomolangma, the world’s highest peak on the China-Nepal border.

The expedition focuses on major scientific issues such as the west wind-monsoon synergy, changing Asian water towers, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human activities in the Mount Qomolangma region.

The expedition team will also conduct studies on environmental changes, changes in greenhouse gas concentration, ecosystem carbon sink functions, and human adaptation to extreme environments in the areas of very high altitude of Mount Qomolangma in the context of global warming, according to the research team. (Xinhua/Sun Fei)

LHASA, May 2 (Xinhua) — What impact does an ultra-high altitude environment have on human health? What are the dangers to the human body if it encounters environmental pollution at such high altitudes? What to do to protect your health in a high altitude environment?

Chinese researchers from the ongoing global scientific expedition to Mount Qomolangma, the world’s highest peak on the China-Nepal border, are trying to find answers to these questions. With its peak at 8,848.86 meters, the famous mountain offers an excellent opportunity for such studies.

A team of 27 researchers monitors the state of health of 50 volunteers positioned at different altitudes: 5,200 meters, 5,800 meters, 6,350 meters and 8,848 meters.

Wearing electrocardiogram monitoring and saturation sensors, squad leader Zhu Tong is himself one of the volunteers.

Carrying a backpack and holding a hiking stick, Zhu, director of the College of Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE) of Peking University (PKU), walked back and forth near the camp mountaineering base of Mount Qomolangma, located 5,200 meters above sea level. level.

“Some of my team members have arrived at the 6,350-meter high area. I’m training to be able to meet them there,” said Zhu, 59. “As you go up in altitude, your body will change accordingly, which makes this intuitive data invaluable.”

Researchers will collect blood, urine, saliva, feces and other samples, measure blood pressure and monitor pulse wave velocity from volunteers, including Zhu, to provide samples. for follow-up research.

Through long-term monitoring, Zhu’s team discovered that the Qomolangma area has a high ozone density, almost on par with some Chinese cities. Studies have speculated that such ozone pollution is caused by the high concentration of ozone-rich air in the upper atmosphere caused by glacial winds on the icy Mount Qomolangma.

Hua Qiaoyi, team member and EESC doctor, said even low levels of ozone – a powerful oxidizing pollutant – harm human health, having the potential to stir up and damage the airways and system. cardiovascular.

“The expedition is a rare opportunity for our team to understand the harmful effects high levels of pollution have on the body in very high altitude, oxygen-poor environments,” Hua said.

Research takes time as data is still being collected and sorted. Zhu said they will eventually get many “interesting results,” which could help provide preventive and protective measures for the health of people living and working at high altitudes, as well as short-term visitors.

Zhu’s team is part of the more than 270-member scientific research team of the comprehensive scientific expedition to Mount Qomolangma, which is part of China’s second scientific research survey of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. .

With the largest number of disciplines covered, the largest number of scientific research participants, and the most advanced equipment used, the expedition is the largest since the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau survey began in 2017. .

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