FAQ: Microbiology of Built Environments, May 2016

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Built environments are the structures that humans create to shelter from the outdoors and provide spaces for living, working, playing, and getting places. Along with humans, pets, pests, and house plants, built environments house a range of microbes. Preliminary studies indicate that indoor spaces have distinct microbial communities, influenced by building materials, ventilation and airflow, moisture, and human and animal activity. The Academy convened a colloquium on September 9, 2015 to examine the role of complex microbial ecosystems found in built environments, including their effects on building chemistry and human health. Studying the microbiology of built environments can change the ways we design, build, operate, occupy, and clean our indoor spaces.


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On May 19th, the Academy hosted a Twitter chat to release the report. The chat was led by a panel of experts and participants from the Colloquium:

Joan W. Bennett, Ph.D., Chair, Colloquium Steering Committee, Dept. Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University,
Paula Olsiewski, Ph.D., Microbiology of the Built Environment Program, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,
John Taylor, Ph.D., Dept. Plant & Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley,
Chris Mason, Ph.D., Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics, Cornell Medical College,

The panelists weighed in on many different tropics concerning the microbiology of built environments and answered questions about the report. You can read the transcript of the chat at the link below: