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Looking at the microbial communities that grow on students' desks, a team of Yale researchers found that the bacteria and fungi overwhelmingly came from the children sitting at the desks. They also found that, even after a desk cleaning, the microbes were back in full force within a few days.
The results, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, suggest that in times of outbreaks or for children sensitive to allergens, school officials should consider more rigorous desk-cleaning practices.
Research - Team - Lab - Jordan - Peccia
The research team in the lab of Jordan Peccia, the Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, analyzed samples from the surfaces of classroom desks from three Connecticut schools, grades 7 to 12, in one school district. Each desk was tested before cleaning and then tested five times over a period of 21 days during the school year.
Analyses of samples taken 30 minutes after the desks were cleaned found that only about half of the bacteria and fungi were cleared. Within two to three days, the microbial communities were as plentiful as before the cleaning. Also, their makeup was close to what was found in the initial sample. Between 70 to 80 percent of the microbes were of human origin—specifically, from the skin, mouth, and gut.
Sarah - E - Kwan - PhD - Candidate
Sarah E. Kwan, a Ph.D. candidate in Peccia's lab and lead author of the study, said they were surprised to find that there was almost no change in the microbial makeup over all of the samples.
"That means the bacteria and fungi...
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