Swine flu's little helper

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Zoinks.

Scientists have discovered that exposure to a common pollutant may make people more likely to experience severe symptoms from swine flu -- and it's a pollutant emitted in large quantities by coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities.

The culprit is arsenic, a highly poisonous semi-metal which, according to a new study by researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory and Dartmouth Medical School, compromises a person's ability to mount an immune response to the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Most disturbingly, the study -- published last month in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives -- found that arsenic can weaken the immune response to swine flu even in the low-level exposure levels that  are commonly found in contaminated drinking water.

More from the The Institute for Southern Studies.

In related news: Child who attended Harris YMCA tests positive for Swine Flu

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