In a nod to the evolving perceptions of healthy eating and exercise in the 1980s, a great James Bond exchange has him sharing with Moneypenny that his current secret assignment was "to eliminate all free radicals." It sounds more exciting than it was; the "free radicals" were a threat to his personal health and vigor (as to us all), not to the free world. It was a well-written reminder quip, and perhaps a jab at those who urge us to eat better and exercise. Never Say Never Again, (Taliafilm, 1983).

We can discuss and debate when the SARS-C0V-2 or COVID-19 pandemic ended (I still see people in masks). Florida long ago emerged from the pandemic, and as I converse with people across the country, I am thankful for that. There was reaction and constraint here, but it was brief. 

President Biden recently (on a Sunday) declared the pandemic "over." On the following Wednesday, he spoke at a United Nations gathering; people there, including President Biden, were wearing face masks. In an interesting throwback to hyper-prevention, a couple of Chinese pictures of flutists wearing double masks were recently seen on social media. The thought was apparently met with ridicule. Over? We will see. No news yet on the fate of the 171 million doses of the newest vaccine ordered for the fall season. Some might question that volume of vaccine when the pandemic has ended. 

I have written chapters about the onset of the COVID-19 infection, our perceptions, the successes and failures of science, and more. There is a reasonably comprehensive list of my expositions in Long COVID Seminar (April 2022). Fifty-seven (57) posts here at least mention COVID-19. In short, it has been an interesting couple of years navigating the space occupied by this virus and all of its impacts and implications. I was early to the discussion of "Long COVID," and those predictions have been pretty prescient. 

Throughout, I have been convinced that science will one day explain how some humans have somehow avoided ever being infected. Even before the vaccines, I knew people who blithely, regularly, and yet safely shared space socially during the lockdowns and quarantines. A favorite story is of a group of twenty-somethings that played cards for hours in a small apartment. They learned the next day an infected soul had been amongst them. Upon testing, however, the others present each remained uninfected. Just that one soul. Why? How?

We heard about the potential for protection or at least diminished risk based on blood type. Some touted the properties of particular vitamins. Others suggested that our personal health experience and our personal production/retention of T-cells might play some role in our personal susceptibility. See The Immunity May Matter (November 2021). Perhaps there is some genetic component? Time will be needed. There are many studies about SARS-CoV-2 underway and the data analysis of what COVID was, is, and what it all means has likely just begun. 

Maybe, you were (not) protected by your aura? Admittedly, this is a bit facetious. But it is interesting. 


New agers, hippies, and more have been made fun of regarding their assertions that humans are surrounded by an aura. Webster defines "aura" as:
"an energy field that is held to emanate from a living being."
While the presence of such a field is easy to doubt, it is perhaps even easier to doubt that someone can actually see your aura. Hollywood has made much humor from deriding those who claim the ability to perceive or even see such a field, to discern its hue, and to judge you based on it. And, despite the doubts that linger, some seemingly credible Internet sites discuss auras in the sense of an energy field.


But, 2022 brought news that "Scientists discover humans produce an invisible aura of air-cleansing molecules." Not an "energy field" or colored glow about us, but a protection of a molecular kind. We have, they now believe, an ability to facilitate chemical reactions that may be of benefit to us in making the air around us less threatening. 

This is not necessarily a preventative for any disease. However, might "air-cleaning" molecules be of assistance in our defense against an airborne virus? At this stage, there remains much to learn about COVID specifically and viruses in general. It is possible that this aura plays some role. The authors caution that they are not certain that this aura process is not in some ways potentially detrimental to us. For good or bad, they do claim to be convinced that such chemical reactions around each of us are real. 

Recent research demonstrates that "short-living molecules" are surrounding our bodies, in an aura. We each have "oil made by our skin" ("squalene, a chemical which keeps skin supple") and it reacts to ozone, creating these "short-lived molecules called OH radicals." Not the "free radicals" of Bond fame, but radicals nonetheless. We are, it seems, each potentially impacted by radicals. 

"Ozone is a colorless to blue gas with a pungent odor," according to the Center for Disease Control. You may have smelled it if you were ever close to a lightning strike. Heat and sunlight can also cause a chemical reaction that forms ozone, according to the South Carolina Department of Health. Thus, there is Ozone around us to interact with this squalene. Perhaps there is more around us when there is more sunshine and heat? 

A professor quoted in the aura article says that the "radicals are . . . created in the air in sunbeams.” Thus, the presence and duration of daylight are perhaps critical. The radicals then interact with threats "like kamikaze pilots." They "attack any compound around them." Their effort is to find somewhere to "snatch a hydrogen atom," with which to interact and thus evolve "into water and become stable." They are around us and are cleaning our air. 

The OH radical study concludes that these radicals in your aura "are known to neutralize toxic molecules." They have been nicknamed “detergents of the atmosphere." And, while they are being referred to collectively as an "aura," the more scientific description is "an oxidation field" that surrounds us. Until this recent study, scientists did not know that human bodies create these "OH radicals," and the article's authors express curiosity as to whether other species may or may not share this ability. The simple fact about science seems to be that it is evolving and learning persistently.

Perhaps such radicals play some role in whether we do or do not become ill? The article reiterates that OH radicals might be good or evil and that the jury is still out. It is possible that they benefit us, exist harmlessly, or may produce toxic results in certain circumstances and interactions. How and why we produce them, and how they influence our defense or health, are intriguing questions. The confirmation of their presence at least merely illustrates that science continues to evolve and discover our world.  

By Judge David Langham

Courtesy of Florida Workers' Comp

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    About The Author

    • Judge David Langham

      David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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