You don’t have to have a big personality to have A PRESENCE

you don't need a big personality to have a presenceWhen you arrive in a room, does the room light up because of your sparkling witty magnetic personality ?

Hopefully you do, but don’t worry if you’re the kind of person who tends to blend in with the furniture. You still have a very tangible presence in any room you move in to.

The presence may not be visible to the naked eye, but for every hour you spend in a room, you add around 37 million bacteria to the room’s milieu, according to research published by engineers from Yale University.

No such thing as an empty room

An empty room is never really empty. The absence of a human being, just allows the microbial world to settle in. Many of the bacteria do in fact sink to the ground or settle on the available surfaces, when the air becomes calm, due to a lull in activity.

But, as someone steps into a room, the movement of the air, whips up this quiescent microbial population. The re-suspended bacteria fill the air which we breathe – the quality of this population can impact our health.

Nothing new here – everyday spaces are bacterial playgrounds.

Biological aerosols in a university classroom

The Yale team pondered the question – does your presence make any difference to the air “quality”. The focus was not on the sweet (sic) smelling odours clinging to your skin and clothes, or the noxious odours emanating from your orifices, but on your contribution to the microbial presence.

To analyze the impact of humans on room air quality, the team studied the biological particles in a single ground-floor university classroom over a period of eight days. The doors and windows were kept closed, the air conditioning system churned away throughout.

  • For four days the room was continually used.
  • For four days the room stood vacant – human activity was effectively banned.

During the course of the study, the air was sampled and analyzed.

When you enter the room you add to it

The team found, human occupancy changed the microbial milieu. The number of bugs and things spiked when human frequented the room. In particular, humans brought in larger sized fungal particles and medium sized bacterial particles.

As with many things, size does count. How big a particle is, impacts whether the particle will end up being swept up by the air conditioner and removed from circulation, or the particle ends up lingering as it re-circulates.

You’re dropping 37 million bacteria per hour

The analysis suggested…………..

18 % of the “bugs” in the room, must have come from the humans visiting, based on the size of the particles they were found in and the species of bacteria in the particles.

Translated that means that in addition to shedding heaps of skin cells, you’re also dropping around 37 million bacteria for every hour you spend in a room

So you definitely HAVE A PRESENCE, irrespective of the size of your personality.

And you leave a small part of you behind, every time you leave the room.

Other “presences” in the room

Most of the bacteria that you’re leaving behind are pretty harmless, since they are the usual residents of human skin. Although, some of these guys can also get up to no good.

But you probably want to avoid too much room sharing with a germ infested human. Someone who is coughing, spitting and slobbering is potentially leaving a greater microbial legacy.

Thank goodness for the human immune system !

Size-resolved emission rates of airborne bacteria and fungi in an occupied classroom. Indoor Air (2012) 13 Feb edition. J. Qian, D. Hospodsky, N. Yamamoto, W. W. Nazaroff, J. Peccia.  
 

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Further reading

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