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Friday, July 19, 2024
HomeArticleHealthcare DiagnosticsThe Microbiome of Our Indoor Environment

The Microbiome of Our Indoor Environment

By Taly Dery, CEO, Global Impact

Humans are complex creatures. Our sustainability and health directly depend on our internal physical state and our external interactions with our environment. When it comes to internal hygiene, the main factors are obvious: the food we eat, the water we drink, sleep quality, emotional state, metabolism and how they affect or are affected by our genetic composition. In recent years, however, we have found that within us live and interact a myriad of microbes, fungi, viruses and bacteria—good and bad. We are essentially the hosts to a complete microbiome, the health and balance of which will influence many of our bodily functions, and especially our immune system function and response.

At the same level, recent research discovers more and more correlations between our health and well-being and the quality of our external environments. Considering that nowadays most of us spend over 90% of our time indoors, we can start looking at our indoor environment as a host to a plentiful microbiome, which we create a major part of. Each of us, walking, working, touching, and breathing in a building, introduce to our indoors our slew of micro creatures. Our dead skin cells serve as food for diverse bacteria that already reside in our indoor environment. Our miles and miles of air ducts are a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, allergens and a whole microcosmic world with which we interact through touch and breathing.

As science discovers more and more ways to enrich and support our internal microbiome, by supporting the growth of essential (A/K/A good) bacteria, and their effect on our well-being and bodily functions, a new and upcoming area of biotech is looking into newly discovered ways to enhance the essential bacteria in our buildings, as a proactive method of preventing and limiting the growth of parasites, harmful bacteria, fungi and certain allergens in our indoor environments. Scientists have found new ways to continuously infuse the indoors, through the use of our air ducts, or directly into the air, with essential environmental bacteria, restoring their levels to the ratios we would commonly find outdoors in nature. A healthy and balanced indoor microbiome is proving to affect our external interactions, thereby reducing our external stressors in our natural habitat- our homes, cars, and offices.

In the same manner the old notion of popping antibiotics for every sneeze proved to be extremely harmful to our internal microbial balance, a new area of research is proving the harmful long-term effects of our continuous and relentless killing of the indoor microbiome through the use of UV lights, Ozone technologies and other mass destruction “antibiotic” weapons.  Regular and ongoing use of antibiotics essentially weaken our immune system by enabling it to depend on external toxins to eliminate harmful threats. Technologies and chemicals designed to eliminate 99.999% of bacteria have limited ability to differentiate between essential and harmful bacteria—leaving us with a shattered and imbalanced microbiome. The same thought process seems to hold true to our indoor environments. Unless there is an acute infestation, like black mold after a leak or a flood, that requires severe and targeted treatments, the new methods of improving our indoors require the regular and continuous introduction of essential environmental bacteria that support our indoor health and balanced microbiome. These strains of bacillus bacteria adapt to the environment and instead of killing pathogens, compete with them over food sources and living space, thereby limiting pathogenic activity and their ability to overgrow their colonies without developing resistance.

Every experienced parent knows that a baby’s immune system grows stronger from the exposure to measured levels of pollutants. Babies who are kept in sterile environments develop weaker immune systems and oversensitive immune reactions. On the same token, allowing our indoors to maintain a healthy balance, purposefully infusing and supporting the growth of a majority of good probiotic environmental bacteria that will in turn allow some quarantined pathogenic activity, without the futile attempt to obliterate all bacteria, shows impressive scientific proof that our interactions with such environments both strengthen our immune systems, reduce overactive immune response, allergic reactions and support our general well-being and health.

The staggering growth of environmentally induced allergies and diseases like asthma, COPD, skin conditions, as well as our lost wars against antibiotic resistant pathogens and viruses like MRSA and COVID-19 which brought the world to its knees, require us to approach the topic of indoor hygiene with much more sophistication and finesse. Waging a war against our environment, when we are an active part of it, seems to cause a worsening damage to our bodies and our well-being. Supporting the “good and essential” instead of killing the “bad” is gaining more and more scientific evidence as the method that works with and not against our own bodies, fostering an ongoing microbial balance in the world around us.

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