Should We Introduce Good Microbes into a Facility?

February 23, 2021

Although it's important to clean and disinfect — especially high-touch surfaces — in a hospital and other healthcare facilities, there could be a point of diminishing return for all that effort. 

Research has found that aprior patient’s microbiome is still present in a room, even after cleaning and disinfecting. It's not surprising — another study showed that a patient's skin and environmental surfaces in a room become more microbially similar over the length of a patient's stay. Studies show that just by breathing, a person could be dispensing up to 320 droplets. Also, the airflow behind a body when walking creates a swirling between the legs and a downwards plume behind the body. Think of Charlie Brown's friend Pigpen to illustrate this point, except that it's all invisible to the human eye.

Instead of solely focusing on killing all microbes, some are wondering if we should refocus efforts to promote the good ones. In a new post by facility management blogger Sara Mayberry, experts suggest that building owners and facility managers promote "good" indoor microbes. 

One method of doing this would be to impregnate good bacteria into surface materials or polymer coatings. However, since bacteria need water to survive, researchers are also looking into adding bacteria to cleaning products. 

Another option is to pump microbially diverse outdoor air into indoor environments through the ventilation systems. Opening windows to let in fresh air can accomplish the same thing. 

Read more about these alternative methods and the potential for microbial sensors here.

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Topic Area: Infection Control

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