As if you weren’t worried enough about personal hygiene, new research suggests that everyone is always sat in their own personal bubble of microbes and bacteria.
This bubble resembles a cloud which is made up of trillions of bacteria, yeast, cells, and cell parts – from shedded skin particles to fart microbes – and it’s completely unique to you.
The whole thing sounds pretty gross but studying these fart-filled microbiome clouds could be incredibly useful for scientists and doctors trying to find out more about diseases. Apparently police could even use these clouds as a way to identify people and to track down criminals!
The new study was published on Tuesday in the journal PeerJ.
In a statement, James Meadow, lead author of the study, said:
[The results] demonstrate for the first time that individuals release their own personalized microbial cloud.
Together, all the bacteria on a person’s body make up what researchers call the human microbiome, with Meadow adding, “In a single centimetre of skin, you can find thousands of bacteria.”
Meadow and his co-authors wanted to know if the microbiome cloud created when these bacteria are shed was detectable, so they did a pair of experiments, both involving people sitting in sterilised rooms and filtering any particles which came off the participants out of the chamber.
Researchers found that not only could they identify that people were in the chamber by comparing the bacteria from the samples to that from an unoccupied chamber but, in a second experiment, they determined that the combinations of bacteria surrounding each person could be easily distinguished from one another and they were able to identify most people just from their microbiome cloud.
The results from the study suggest that the findings could be used in forensics in the future, which is all well and good, but what are we meant to do now that Meadows has explained that ‘the world is covered in a fine patina of faeces’? Not cool…