The Microbes Living In Your Home Say A Lot About You

There are thousands of microbial species crawling around your home right now — and they can reveal a lot about you and anyone else who lives there.

That’s according to a study published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study reveals the surprising amount of microbial diversity in the average household, and what kinds of secrets those microbes hold.

What exactly can scientists learn about you from a single sample of the dust in your house?

“We can, to some degree, figure out where you live (or at the least the climate where you live), [and] who you might live with (including dogs and cats),” Dr. Noah Fierer, a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of the study, told The Huffington Post in an email. “More generally, we can figure out what potential allergens you may be exposed to inside your home.”

For the study, the researchers examined roughly 1,200 homes across the U.S., analyzing the indoor and outdoor dust at each home.

The researchers found that, on average, most homes contain more than 5,000 different species of bacteria and around 2,000 species of fungi.

But don’t panic. As Fierer told the Los Angeles Times, most of these household microbes are completely harmless, and some may even be beneficial.

The researchers also analyzed which factors influence each home’s different fungal and bacterial communities.

“For fungi, the biggest influence appears to be where your house is located,” Fierer told HuffPost. “For bacteria, it appears to be the human and non-human animals (i.e. dogs and cats) that you live with.”

(Story continues below.)

For instance, bacteria found in your home can vary depending on the number of men and women who live there, Live Science reported. Clues to the men-to-women ratio in a home can —> Read More