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Filthy humans covered in germs

Stop worrying about germs on a doctor’s office phone or on a public restroom doorknob, because now there is a new bacteria carrier in town: You.

Yes, you in your fresh clothes, clean hair  and meticulously manicured nails.  Just by walking into a room, you add 37 million bacteria for every hour you stay there, according to a new study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley and Yale University.

Jordan Peccia, associate professor of environmental engineering at Yale and principal investigator of the study, deliciously likened our germs to soup. He told California Watch:

“We live in this microbial soup, and a big ingredient is our own microorganisms. Mostly, people are re-suspending what’s been deposited before. The floor dust turns out to be the major source of the bacteria that we breathe.”

To measure the full impact a person’s germs can have on indoor air quality, researchers monitored a university classroom for eight days. Half of the time the room was empty, while the other half had people periodically in it.

Researchers found that the presence of a person correlated with significant spikes in fungi and bacteria circulating in the air. They reported that nearly one-fifth of all bacteria and fungi measured in the room came from human sources, as opposed to plants or anywhere else.

The most predominant bacteria was a common human skin bacteria called Propionibacteria. These little critters hang around your sweat glands and other areas of your skin.

While other studies have researched the bacterial contents of objects or spaces in a room, this is the first study to quantify the bacterial remnants of the human presence.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers also found that carpeted rooms were the most infested with bacteria. William Nazaroff, co-author and environmental engineering professor at UC Berkeley, told California Watch:

“Whenever you share occupied indoor spaces with others, you are exposed to bacteria and fungi associated with other current and probably recent occupants. … However, we don’t yet know whether there is any health significance associated with routine bacteria and fungi exposure indoors.”

In conclusion, Peccia, confirmed what we all are thinking whenever we enter a doctor’s office or board an airplane:

“All those infectious diseases we get, we get indoors.”

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