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I have a world heavily polluted. A war long ago sustained by automated factories has kicked up a significant amount pollution and debris into the atmosphere. This has caused a permanent mist/fog of smokey pollution across the planet.

Normal humans don't do well in such smokey environments. However, the humans of my world aren't ordinary by any means. They have the capability to grow custom organs, glands, cells, hormones etc. They can add some organs after birth as well.

How would my people use their genetic engineering capabilities to survive such a smokey environment?

Notes:

  1. All extra organs, glands, etc are internal. They can't grow an extra limb or filter on their face. The organs and glands are small as well, having to fit in a slightly larger human body (no giant Space Marine body types).
  2. Organs or glands can be passed down genetically.
  3. The effects or mechanisms don't have to be immediate or work in real time. Something that cleans or works while someone is sleeping or essentially healing is fine as well.
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Improved hemoglobin and myoglobin concentration allows them to store more oxygen, going for many minutes between breaths when necessary. Many aquatic mammals such as dolphins have exactly this type of capability. They use it to sustain themselves on long dives beneath the surface. Your people use it to avoid having to breathe during their excursions into the smokey atmosphere. It doesn't last forever, of course, but it's long enough to go from one filtered environment, such as your workplace, to another, such as public transit.

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Humans are already genetically selected for living in smokey environments.

Since they have learned to control fire, they have been forced to live in smoky environments: caves and huts were not exactly engineered for having a clean exit of the combustion gases, and most of what was burned wasn't exactly prime grade burning material, so smoke was a warranty.

This has led to the selection of genetic traits which made humans more resistant to smoke and its damage.

Modern humans are the only primates that carry this genetic mutation that potentially increased tolerance to toxic materials produced by fires for cooking, protection and heating, said Gary Perdew, the John T. and Paige S. Smith Professor in Agricultural Sciences, Penn State. At high concentrations, smoke-derived toxins can increase the risk of respiratory infections. For expectant mothers, exposure to these toxins can increase the chance of low birth weight and infant mortality.

The mutation may have offered ancient humans a sweet spot in effectively processing some of these toxins -- such as dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- compared to other hominins.

The researchers, who released their findings in the current issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution, suggest that a difference in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor -- which regulates the body's response to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- between humans, Neanderthals and other non-human primates may have made humans more desensitized to certain smoke toxins. The mutation in the receptor is located in the middle of the ligand-binding domain and is found in all present-day humans, Perdew added.

The direction is given, your genetic engineers need just to go further along it.

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Shrimp DNA

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The bottom of the ocean is a barren place. Except near hydrothermal vents or smokers. These holes in the Earth's crust belch out clouds of sulfurous smoke.

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The surrounding abyssal plane is empty but the smokers are full of life. Tube worms, crabs, shrimp, undersea insects. They have adapted to filter or even feed on the noxious chemicals in the water. See video

The arthropods do not have an obvious filter organ attached to them. The process is internal. Perhaps it helps that the shrimps are filter-feeders to begin with.

Your humans survive in the smoke, using an artificial Galatheid Organ in the respiratory system. It works the same way the shrimps and crabs work. Leave it at that.

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Your humans need to filter out smoke particulates. They will engineer themselves to have copious nostril hair.

nostril hair

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/people-embracing-nostril-hair-getting-15003649

The nose itself will be larger to accomodate the wadded bezoaresque mass of nose hair that acts as a filter.

Your people will also have much more mucus. Thick, tenacious bubbly mucus starting at the nose and all the way down the respiratory tract will trap smoke particulates and allow them to be expelled before they can cause trouble. Expelled mucus with its heavy burden of smoke particulates and spent nose hairs will occur via prodigious sneezes. These occur without warning. Your smoke-dwelling people are ok with that and actually find it attractive.

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Your people could genetically engineer the following internal organs to adapt and survive in a polluted environment:

  1. Lungs: Enhance the lungs' filtration system to effectively filter out pollutants from inhaled air.

  2. Liver: Modify the liver to break down and neutralize toxic pollutants in the bloodstream.

  3. Immune system: Strengthen the immune system to better resist pollutants and toxins.

  4. Kidneys: Improve the kidneys' ability to filter pollutants from the bloodstream and eliminate them from the body.

  5. Blood cells: Create specialized blood cells that can detect and remove pollutants from circulation.

  6. Hormones: Develop hormones that stimulate the body's natural defense mechanisms against pollutants.

  7. Sleep: Induce a deeper, more restorative sleep that allows the body to repair and cleanse itself more efficiently.

These genetic modifications can be passed down to future generations, allowing your people to thrive in the polluted environment.

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I'm going to take a different approach

Personal survival isn't the same as species survival.

A person doesn't need to live to 100. They only need to live long enough to have enough offspring to keep the species going.

People could grow quicker, mature faster and have more children. Sure, they die of lung cancer at 40 but they've had 15 kids by then so the species survives quite comfortably.

Breeding faster is a successful strategy for a lot of animal species.

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