Living Microorganisms In Dust Might Be Dangerous To Human Health

Living Microorganisms In Dust Might Be Dangerous To Human Health
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It’s normal to not like dust, which consists of dead skin, hair, bugs, soil, animal fur, and so on, as it gets everywhere, on desks, windows, and even inside your computer. Even though it might seem harmless, the dust is housing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and other germs.

“There is this conventional wisdom that says everything that’s in dust is dead, but that’s not actually the case. There are things living in there,” explained Erica Hartmann, an environmental engineer at Northwestern University.

The researchers sampled dust from 42 gym facilities located in the Pacific Northwest region, as these facilities are renowned as sources of antimicrobial chemicals, usually present in mats and other specific equipment, as well in cleaning agents used to clean these things.

The scientists found bacterial genes that contribute to antibiotic resistance, as some of the germs the scientists discovered were immune to chemicals such as triclosan, which has been banned by the FDA in 2016.

Living Microorganisms In Dust Might Be Dangerous To Human Health

“Those genes do not code for resistance to triclosan. They code for resistance to medically relevant antibiotic drugs,” explained Erica Hartmann. “We don’t really know how the genes or the chemicals got there. They may have arrived by completely different routes, and they’re being found together is a coincidence. However, we know that antimicrobial chemicals can cause an increase in antibiotic resistance in other situations, so I think these results provide a good reason to take a closer look at what’s going on in the dust,” she added.

“At a minimum, our results suggest that anthropogenic antimicrobial chemicals and microbial systems are interacting somewhere in or around these buildings or their occupants,” the scientists said in the study’s report published in the mSystems journal.

In short, dust in our households is housing living microorganisms that might be dangerous to human health.


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