According to a new report, floors, carpets, and even tap water were found to create more bacteria than the toilet.
Marzia Miletto and Steven Lindow at the University of California, Berkeley, have mapped the bacteria circulating in 29 homes in California. Taking samples from kitchen surfaces, shower heads, bathroom tiles, carpets, toilets, pets and the people who lived there, the team found that one of the most common sources of airborne microbes in these homes was outside air.
And there’s no need to worry folks because as what researchers stated, the supply of air from outside is a good thing. Fresh air brings in new bacteria, and gets rid of some of the potentially harmful ones you’ve been culturing.
Opening the windows clears out the bacteria in your home,” Miletto says.
Floors and carpets came out top with 19.5 percent (probably because we’re always kicking up dust from them), while 16.5 percent of bugs could be traced back to outside air that had drifted in or been carried in by people.
Tap water produced 9 percent of airborne bacteria, while a mere 0.4 percent could be traced back to the toilet bowl. As far as breathing in bugs is concerned, you could do way worse than the bathroom (although it wasn’t mentioned how things would change after immediate use).
We drink a lot of it, we shower in it, and when we use a tap, water is aerosolised and we breathe it in. There are a lot more bacteria in drinking water than people think,” she says.
These bacteria are likely to mostly be beneficial for us. Exposure to a diverse array has been linked to better health, says Jack Gilbert at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.
Given how much time many of us spend indoors, it is important to understand the microbes in our homes and how they might influence our health. The study of the microbial communities in the built environment is of critical importance as humans spend the majority of their time indoors. While the microorganisms in living spaces, especially those in the air, can impact health and well-being, little is known of their identity and the processes that determine their assembly,” according to the researchers.
The report also notes that further variations would be expected in different parts of the world, as not every climate is as mild as California’s (where residents won’t hesitate to throw open a window).
The work won’t only help those who want to keep their homes bug-free, it’s also informative for managers of large buildings like offices and schools – it suggests that the more diverse a microbiome environment is, the healthier it becomes, and that means outside air is an important contributor.
In fact, there’s plenty of research that says certain types of bacteria are good for us, helping the body to develop its immune system and ward off threats.