From: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Published August 16, 2017 01:02 PM

New Report Outlines Research Agenda to Better Understand the Relationship Among Microbiomes, Indoor Environments, and Human Health

Even with a growing body of research on microorganisms and humans in indoor environments, many of their interconnections remain unknown, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report proposes a research agenda to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the formation, dynamics, and functions of indoor microbiomes that can guide improvements to current and future buildings as well as enhance human health and well-being.

The indoor environments described in the report are spaces such as homes, offices, and schools—the places where people spend most of their time. Microbiomes found in these built environments comprise viruses, bacteria, and fungi that enter a building through its air and water system, are found on pets, plants, and rodents, and is in dirt that is tracked indoors. These microorganisms also live on human skin and in the digestive tract and are shed into the indoor environment.

Available evidence shows that the relationship between indoor microbiomes and human health is complex with effects ranging from harmful to beneficial to neutral. For example, while certain microbes found in damp or water-damaged buildings are associated with respiratory problems, studies also show that children exposed to some microbes early in life are less likely to develop wheezing or allergic disease. The report says in-depth human studies and laboratory animal-model investigations can help improve understanding of the association between exposure to microbes found in indoor spaces and diverse health impacts.

Read more at National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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