According to Live Science, a diverse collection of microscopic life lurk hidden in our household dust, and scientists now find that these tiny communities can differ greatly from each other depending of where a person lives, what pets a person has, and how many people in the house are male or female.
As people settle into urban lifestyles, they’re actually spending a greater amount of time with the microbes found in their respective houses. Although, some of these microbes could have a negative effect on our health, others could actually be beneficial.
So, to get a better understanding on how these microbes could affect our health, researchers collected dust from a spot many of us overlook when cleaning – the top of door frames.
Researchers’ findings revealed that there’s more than 125,000 kinds of bacteria and 70,000 types of fungi in total found in an average household. When comparing indoor and outdoor microbes, researchers found indoor bacteria and fungi to be more diverse than those found outside, because many outdoor species were being brought into households.
The study, which is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was co-authored by Dr Noah Fierer, and told BBC News,
People do not need to worry about microbes in their home. They are all around us, they are on our skin, they’re all around our home – and most of these are completely harmless.”
However, what was particularly interesting about this study was that, how indoor microbes were strongly influenced by the people living in the house, the home’s location and whether they had pets?
Researchers say that, geographic region heavily influenced the makeup of indoor fungi, as most entered homes through windows and doors. Whereas the type of bacteria found inside the home varied according to who lived there, particularly depending on the ratio of men to women. Two kinds of skin bacteria, known as Corynebacterium and Dermabacter, were more abundant in homes with more men. Roseburia, a type of bacteria found in human feces, was also more common in homes with more men. Researchers attribute these variances to a number of factors, which include differences in skin biology and hygiene practices between men and women.
Furthermore, our household pets – critters and puppies – also influenced household bacteria. Researchers found 56 different types of bacteria that were more abundant in households that owned dogs, and 24 types of bacteria more abundant in the homes of cat owners.
A major factor is whether there is a dog or cat in the home. When you bring a dog or cat into your home, you’re not just bringing a cute, fuzzy animal, but also microbes associated with that animal. When it comes to dogs, most of those microbes are probably coming from their mouths,” Fierer said.
Interestingly, scientists said that most of the microbes found in homes are innocuous, and some might even be helpful.
There’s some evidence that exposure to dogs and cats at a young age can actually protect you from allergies. People shouldn’t be afraid of the bacteria and fungi in their homes — we’ve known for a long time now that they’re there. They’re just a fact of life,” Fierer said.
These findings could lead to the development of new techniques for forensic investigations and researchers are also keen to further investigate how exactly these microbes affect our health.