DO YOU KNOW WE ARE SURROUNDED BY A “CLOUD OF MICROBES” ALL THE TIME?

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If you aren’t Germophobe then you’ll be surprised to know that “You aren’t alone”. We continuously emit our own microbial flora into the air, the things we touch either they are pen, door locks, mobile phones, etc. Germs are always there to go with you. Every minute of the day we are covered with the micro-organisms.

It has been found the time to shed at least 24 million biological particles bacteria, viruses, spores and more into the air around you.

The University of Oregon’s researchers recently discovered that “Every person has a cloud of airborne microbes, or a “Human microbiome,” around them consisting of different species of bacteria. James F. Meadow, a former postdoctoral researcher with the University of Oregon’s Biology and the Built Environment Center who served as the lead author of the study, says in a statement that the bacteria clouds were not expected to be so unique to each participant. The researchers limited their analysis to 12 different bacterial families including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Corynebacterium which are common parts of a human micro biota and are usually found in higher levels in rooms people have occupied.

Scientists discovered this microbial cloud through an experiment in which they examined the emissions of 11 human participants. Each participant was placed in a “Sanitized custom experimental climate chamber” for 4 hours along with petri dishes where the samples placed. All the equipment, chambers were cleaned and sanitized with Antiseptics so that no other bacteria will give wrong results. Temperature of chamber was also maintained.  At the end of the sessions, microbial samples were collected from several settling dishes placed near the subject.

Then, they compared it with the air in an adjacent, unoccupied chamber and found that “most occupants could be clearly detected by their airborne bacterial emissions as well as their contribution to settled particles,” according to the study.

Precisely, the result indicates that, human shed 1 million biological cells through exhaling, discarding off skin cells or by radiating hot waves from upper side of head. This process completely depends on the ventilation of the room.

The composition of each person’s cloud varies with hygiene and environment. People with beards, shed more bacteria because the surface area of their facial hair provides more room for microbes to proliferate. Swimmers who immerse themselves in chlorine every day will have much different cloud signatures.

The amalgamation of biological particles in microbial cloud also depends on the environment, soil, and air and water quality. Different countries have different environment and own diversity of microbes.

But it’s still unclear whether a microbial cloud signature could be as authentic in the same way as a fingerprint.

“One important difference is that our fingerprints don’t change over time, since our micro biota likely does change at least a bit depending on diet, activities, and place,” Meadow says.

In Meadow’s study, microbes went beyond revealing that a human was present in the room they were able to indicate which human.

Fortunately, this research will play a vital role in forensic science. In some cases, these signatures could reveal “not just who’s there, but potentially where they’ve been and what they’ve done,” Meadow added.

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Sana Zehra is a Microbiologist and have keen interest in writing, a patriot and willing to be an aspiring writer.

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