This seems, uh, pretty bad.


It looks like the exhaust fumes from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets (and others like it, including Blue Origin) are actually toxic to humans — and to the planet we call home.

A new paper in the journal Physics of Fluids details how researchers digitally modeled the type of fumes that come from rockets like those made by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other private rocket manufacturers — and their conclusions are pretty grim.

"We believe that the problem of atmospheric pollution caused by rocket launches is vital," the Cyprus' University of Nicosia research team wrote, "and needs to be addressed appropriately as commercial space flights, in particular, are expected to increase in the future."

Clean It Up

Each launch using RP-1 rocket fuel, like SpaceX's Falcon 9, produces large amounts of carbon gases and nitrogen oxides. Per the modeling done by the Cyprus team, the noxious fumes released by ascending rocket launches would be considered "hazardous to human health" per guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

In an email statement to Business Insider pegged to the study, a Blue Origin spokesperson said its New Shepard rocket is "fueled by highly efficient and clean liquid oxygen and hydrogen" and only has "water vapor with no carbon emissions" as a byproduct. Futurism has reached out to SpaceX for comment but has not yet heard back.

The looming issue, of course, is that commercial space companies — and particularly SpaceX — are working to scale rocket launches up to an astonishing degree. If that's going to pose a major environmental and health issue, better to learn that now.

READ MORE: Atmospheric pollution from rockets [Physics of Fluids]

More on rockets: Journalists Slam NASA for Lack of Transparency Behind Moon Rocket Prelaunch

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