Home Hygiene & Health
The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information

Aug 15th: Humans shed their own microbial cloud

A key source of infectious and other microbes in any occupied place the people living or working there. A new study demonstrates that humans emit a microbial cloud into surrounding indoor air.

The microbes which can invade our body not only present a potential disease threat, but are also essential for our well-being. Dispersal of microbes from humans into their environment can occur through direct contact with surfaces or through airborne release. Humans emit upwards of 106 biological particles per hour, and have long been known to transmit pathogens to other individuals and to indoor surfaces.

In this study, meadows et al used genetic sequencing to characterize the airborne bacterial contribution of a single person sitting in a sanitized chamber. Additionally, they assessed microbial communities in settled particles surrounding each occupant, to investigate the potential long-term fate of airborne microbial emissions. The results confirm that an occupied space is microbially distinct froman unoccupied one, and demonstrate for the first time that individuals release their own personalized

As humans we spend a substantial portion of our lives indoors, up to 90% in industrialized nations. The study illustrates that, while indoors, we are constantly interacting with microbes other people have left behind on the chairs in which we sit, in dust, and on every surface we touch. These human-microbial interactions are in addition to the microbes our pets leave in our houses, those that blow off of tree leaves and soils, those in the food we eat and the water we drink.

Further details are found at:Meadow, J. F., Altrichter, A. E., Bateman, A. C., Stenson, J., Brown, G. Z., Green, J. L., & Bohannan, B. J. M. (2015). Humans differ in their personal microbial cloud. PeerJ, 3, e1258. http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1258