You may never really feel clean again.
Researchers from the University of Oregon have taken the first detailed look at the trillions of microbes that humans excrete in the course of our everyday lives, to see whether that unique microbial 'cloud' was noticeable enough to be traced back to you.
In other words, could science tell if you'd recently been in a room, just by the 'cloud' you left behind?
Like Pig-Pen from 'Peanuts,' humans have a haze of biological particles surrounding them. As disgusting as it might be to imagine your co-workers shedding parts of themselves all around you, we all emit millions of these particles every hour. They get released every time you scratch an itch, brush your hair, and yes - burp or pass gas after eating - and then hang around you like an aura. However:
"It has not previously been demonstrated that humans emit a detectable microbial cloud into surrounding indoor air, nor whether such clouds are sufficiently differentiated to allow the identification of individual occupants."
To test the individualized nature of the personal microbial cloud, the University of Oregon team sequenced microbes from the air surrounding 11 different people in a sanitized experimental chamber. The study found that most of the occupants sitting alone in the chamber could be identified within 4 hours just by the unique combinations of bacteria in the surrounding air. The findings appear in the September 22 issue of the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PeerJ.
TODAY AT 4: TheNow-San Diego looks at how this research could be applied - could police one day use your 'cloud' like a fingerprint, to know if you where at the scene of a crime?