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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Mar;7(3):1205-23. doi: 10.3390/ijerph7031205. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Impact of direct soil exposures from airborne dust and geophagy on human health.

Author information

1
Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School, 1241 E. Catherine Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5618, USA. dsing@umich.edu

Abstract

Over evolutionary time humans have developed a complex biological relationship with soils. Here we describe modes of soil exposure and their biological implications. We consider two types of soil exposure, the first being the continuous exposure to airborne soil, and the second being dietary ingestion of soils, or geophagy. It may be assumed that airborne dust and ingestion of soil have influenced the evolution of particular DNA sequences which control biological systems that enable individual organisms to take advantage of, adapt to and/or protect against exposures to soil materials. We review the potential for soil exposure as an environmental source of epigenetic signals which may influence the function of our genome in determining health and disease.

KEYWORDS:

dust; epigenetics; genetics; geophagy; microbiome; soil

PMID:
20617027
PMCID:
PMC2872320
DOI:
10.3390/ijerph7031205
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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