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Sarah E Kwan, Richard J Shaughnessy, Bridget Hegarty, Ulla Haverinen‐Shaughnessy, Jordan Peccia
Aims. The goal of this study was to quantify the indoor microbiome dynamics of bacterial and fungal communities on school desk surfaces during a cleaning intervention.
Methods and Results. Quantitative PCR and DNA sequenced-based approaches were employed to describe microbial community dynamics on ten desk surfaces, spread across three schools, located in the Northeast region of the U.S. Six samples were taken from each desk, one pre-cleaning, and five post-cleaning at 30 minutes, 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, and 21 days. Cleaning of the desks physically removed ~50% of bacteria, fungi, and human cells and a full recovery of the surface microbial concentrations occurred within 2-5 days. This recovery period is much shorter than the schools’ once per semester cleaning schedule. The dominant source of bacteria and fungi on desks at all time points came from the human microbiome (skin, oral cavity, and gut). More than 50% fungi on desks were members of genera that contain known allergens.
Conclusions. Microbial communities on these school desks are primarily generated and maintained from the deposition of human-associated bacteria and fungi. Current school surface cleaning protocols and cycles may be ineffective at reducing student exposure to fungal allergens and microbes of human origin.
Significance and Impact of Study. Multiple students often share desks in schools. Results on the removal and reestablishment of microbial communities on these surfaces are critical for setting cleaning schedules and practices that effectively interrupt exposure to surface-associated pathogens and allergens.
Jordan Peccia, Sarah E. Kwan
Bacteria and fungi in buildings exert an influence on the human microbiome through aerosol deposition, surface contact, and human and animal interactions. As the identities and functions of beneficial human microbes emerge, the consequences of building design, operation, and function must be understood to maintain the health of occupants in buildings.