What The Dust In Your Home Says About You According to Science, Because Apparently We Live In "A Microbial Zoo"
By now, we all know that there is a lot of the world we cannot see with the naked eye. We co-exist with all kinds of crazy stuff in blissful ignorance — but if we look closely? Well, let's just say the devil is in the details. Case in point: According to a recent study, the dust from your home says a lot about you, from your geographic location to whether you have any pets. Dust — literally just dust — can tell us aaaaaaaaall that. But how? Because it's so much more than "just dust," of course.
Scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and North Carolina State University examined 1,200 homes from across the United States, all of which were willing volunteers for the Wild Life of Our Homes community project. The goal was to discover what kinds of factors determine the microbial communities chillin' in our humble abodes. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, revealed that an average of 5,000 different species of bacteria and 2,000 kinds of fungi make their homes in our homes, because of course they do. As Noah Fierer, Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU-Boulder and a co-author of the study, put it, "We live in a microbial zoo."
How are we feeling? Still OK? Not compulsively cleaning yet? I just wanted to check in, because I audibly shrieked when I read that statistics and immediately began plotting an extensive cleaning plan. Looks like I know I'm doing after work today!
Anyway, scientists were able to divide the horrible things in your dust into several categories, each of which corresponds to a specific detail about your life. The scientists were also quick to note that, regardless of how much you clean, these defining microbial communities are not going away, no matter how hard you try. So put down that broom and say hello to your new roommate!
For the curious, here are a few of the characteristics the dust in your home reveals about you. Is ignorance bliss on this one? Maybe. You be the judge.
1. Where You Live
The indoor communities of fungi can pinpoint where in the world you live. Most fungi make their way indoors via soil and leaves from the outdoors — so, said Fierer, a home in the upper Midwest will play host to different varieties of fungi than one in the Southeast. The soil and leaves in each location breed different communities.
2. Who Your Roommates Are
OK, maybe not specifically who you live with — but the dust in your home can identify whether you live in a home with just dudes or in one with men and women. According to the study, homes with just male occupants have a different bacterial makeup than homes with both male and female occupants.
3. Whether You Have a Dog or a Cat
Not all pet dander is created equal, apparently.
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