Personal Microbial Cloud Expiriment

Summary

Humans harbor diverse microbial communities in and on our bodies, and these can be readily detected in the built environment. Human-associated bacteria disperse into and throughout buildings by three primary mechanisms: (1) direct human contact with indoor surfaces; (2) bioaerosol particle emission from our breath, clothes, skin and hair; and (3) resuspension of indoor dust containing previously shed human skin cells, hair and other bacteria-laden particles.  Microbial communities in the built environment are often traced back to an individual person, based on their direct contact with an object, including classroom surfaces and mobile phones. Using our unique Climate Chamber, we measured the airborne bacterial emissions, or “microbial cloud“, of individuals. Most occupants could be clearly detected by their cloud or by settled microbial particles within 1.5 – 4 hours.  Our results confirm that an occupied space is microbially-distinct from an unoccupied one, and demonstrate for the first time that individuals release their own personalized microbial cloud.

Videos

Press

You Produce a Microbial Cloud That Can Act Like An Invisible Fingerprint

Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Sep 2015

Our Bodies, Our Microbial Clouds

Vicky Gan, CityLab, 22 Sep 2015

Human Microbiome: Your Body Is an Ecosystem

American Natural History Museum, 2016

PUBLICATIONS

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. doi:10.7717/peerj.1258.  Video

Biology and the built environment center

(541) 346-5647 103 Pacific Hall 5219 University of Oregon Eugene,  OR 97403-5231

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