Monday, April 02, 2012

Just being in a room boosts bacteria count

The bacteria count spikes when
a person is in the room: Study
New research by Yale University engineers shows that a person’s presence in a room can add 37 million bacteria to the air every hour.

The bacteria come from material largely left behind by others and stirred up from the floor.

People’s own microorganisms are a major ingredient in the microbial soup in most indoor environments and floor dust is a major source of exposure, the researchers say.

Other studies have examined the variety of germs present in everyday spaces, but this study is the first to look at how much an individual presence affects the levels of bacteria in the air.

The researchers analyzed biological particles in a single, ground-floor university classroom over a period of eight days.

During four of those days the room was periodically occupied, and four days the room was continuously vacant.

The windows and doors stayed closed during the time of examination, but the HVAC system operated at normal levels.

Large biological particles spike with human presence

When the room was occupied, the researchers found that airborne concentrations of bacteria and fungi substantially increased, especially in larger-sized particles.

The size of the particles was noted because size affects the degree to which they are likely to be filtered from the air or remain in the space.

They found that about 18 percent of all bacterial emissions in the room came from humans (as opposed to plants and other sources). One of the most abundant is commonly found on human skin.

Carpeted rooms appeared to retain higher amounts of microorganisms, the researchers say, but less than 0.1 percent of them are infectious.

Still, this new understanding can help people take the right steps toward better indoor air quality when necessary, they say, since most infectious diseases are spread indoors.

The study was published online in the journal Indoor Air.

Source: Yale University

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