Where Are The Most Bacteria-Filled Places In Your Life?

Bacteria is everywhere. Literally. In the ground, on the subway, in and on your body. I mean we are mostly made up of bacteria.

There’s more of them then there are of us. For every one of our cells, there’s ten

bacterial cells.

The most bacteria in the body can be found in the gut. Which isn’t all the surprising,

there’s been a lot of research lately about the microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria

that lives in and on us. One small study published in the journal Science found that other bacteria-laden

areas of the body include your palms, behind your knees, and your feet. But the most diversity

on your body? That can be found on your found on your forearms. Weird right?

But it’s not just in and on our bodies. It’s AROUND our bodies. We literally walk

with a cloud of bacteria everywhere we go. Kind of like pigpen from Peanuts. In a study

published in the journal Peer J researchers captured air surrounding participants. They

had people sit in boxes for four hours and measured the air around them. They found they

could identify thousands of types of bacterial DNA and could tell whether the person was

male or female!

So basically you can get someone else’s microbes even when you’re just standing

next to them. Great. That’s gonna make commutes awkward.

So once that bacteria leave us, where does it go? Well the most bacteria laden places

tend to be places like public transit.

One really cool study of recent years was a massive undertaking by researchers at Weill

Cornell Medical College. They swabbed thousands and thousands of surfaces of the New York

City subway system. A system that sees nearly 5.5 million people per day passing through

its stations and trains.

Their findings were published in the journal Cell systems. In total they found DNA from

more than 15-thousand different life-forms. Almost half of the DNA belonged to bacteria.

But I should say most of the bacteria they found is harmless. Only 12% were linked to


But it’s not just in public, it’s at home too. There’s millions and millions of microbes

in nearly every nook and cranny of our homes. And one study published in the journal Science

analyzed the homes of seven families over the course of a few weeks. And they found

something surprising. The people seemed to make the bacteria. Like when three of the

families moved, it only took one day for their new house to look like their old house, microbially

at least.

And bathrooms. Man, bathrooms. Bathrooms are pretty gross. But not as gross as you’d

think. Turns out your bathroom is dominated by bacteria from… your skin. Yeah, not what

you’d expect. Yeah bacteria from your bum like Roseburia and Blautia and bacteria from

other nether regions like Lactobacillus and Anaerococcus are present in restrooms. But

only briefly. Bathrooms are too cold, too dry, and oxygen rich to support growth of

these kinds of bacteria. Instead 68-98 percent of the bacteria the researchers found came

from skin and from outdoors!

So the germiest place in your home isn’t the toilet. One study published in the Journal

of Applied Microbiology found that it’s the kitchen. Especially the areas that remain

moist like the kitchen sink which gets touched a lot. The study found that the sink can have

nearly 100,000 bacteria per square centimeter. Where the toilet only has about 100. and let’s

not even mention the dish sponge. ugh. They have the highest concentration of bacteria

of any place in the home. GROSS.

But bacteria gets a bad rap. It’s not all bad! In fact some of it’s pretty good for

us. Research shows that being exposed to more bacteria actually bolsters our immune systems.

Seriously, there’s theories out there that say we’re actually too clean in our environments

leading to modern diseases like asthma. And it’s just as much a part of us as anything

else. So while if I were I’d toss out the dish sponge right now, a fine balance of bacteria

seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

But the dish shop isn’t the only thing that’s covered in bacteria, you cell phone is pretty

freaking gross. Check out how gross in this episode right here