As I drove home from work tonight I was thinking how dark it was at 5:30pm – I’d been inside all day. I hadn’t seen much sun. To make matters worse, my drive home that normally takes 15 – 20 minutes took 40. It’s the first big snow of the year and much to my dismay, 4 hours later it’s still snowing. Many love the first blanket of snow. Those that love it are probably not the ones driving home during rush hour where everyone has forgotten how to drive, and the cloud cover was heavy making it particularly dark. Tonight I was lucky. The car behind me, not so much. I witnessed a car slide into them from my rear-view mirror. As I was watching, I moved forward to avoid being the 3rd vehicle in a chain reaction.
Why the talk about doom and gloom? Well, according to in dark rooms more bacteria was found to be alive and able to reproduce (e.g. viable and potentially infectious) as compared to rooms that were exposed to sunlight or even UV light. Let’s be honest. Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time indoors, particularly in the colder months. The more time we spend indoors, the more time we are exposed to dust particles trapped inside with us and the bacteria that may be hiding in the dust.
The researchers found that dust that was kept in the dark contained microbes that were closely related to species associated with respiratory diseases and that these microbes were absent in dust exposed to daylight. They also found that a larger proportion of the bacteria found were outdoor air-derived bacteria, indicating that the microbiome of indoor dust exposed to daylight makes it resemble bacterial communities found in the great outdoors.
The study would suggest that the long held belief that Do we need to increase the frequency of dusting areas that we may touch on only a weekly or even monthly basis? As the dust accumulates so too does the concentration of pathogens. Air movement can move the dust which may lead to transmission of infections. is true. Contemplating the design of buildings such as schools, offices, hospitals and homes in a way to allow as much natural light coming in as possible may reduce the risk of dust-borne infections. It also highlights the importance for routine cleaning and disinfection. As we now know that dust carries infectious pathogens and that the darker the space the more concentrated the bacteria is, we may want to rethink our cleaning programs as well.