Score more for letting the sunlight in! A new study published in Microbiome journal and conducted by researchers at the University of Oregan claims that sunlight can kill a number of germs found in household dust, and that light shining in can fight poor air quality and protect against respiratory issues.
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I love natural light. As a photo hobbyist and lover of all things bright, I love light. Now, it seems we have even more reasons to let the light shine in, as researchers have found that rooms exposed to sunlight had half the bacteria that darker rooms had, even if the only light was through closed windows. Additionally, the in the rooms that had the sunlight come in, the light killed as much bacteria as a UV light, which is also known to kill bacteria.
The researchers at the University of Oregon's Biology department built dollhouse-sized rooms and put different samples of dust collected from local houses in the rooms. The rooms were exposed to sunlight, UV light or no light for 90 days, which is what scientists say is about the amount of time dust is able to maintain its place in your house, even with regular vacuuming.
They found that 12% of the bacteria in the rooms with no light was still alive after 90 days as compared to only 6.8% alive in the sunlit rooms and 6.1% in the UV light-lit rooms. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg is the co-author of the study and the co-director of the Biology and the Built Environment Center and says that the 6.1% of living cells found is still pretty significant, but that sunlight does seem to make a difference in the air quality and bacteria life, and is not just important for aesthetic comfort.
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The researchers also found that sunlight can kill the bacteria that is associated with human flakes of skin--significant contributors to household dust. This type of dust bacteria is associated with respiratory disease and they theorize that sunlight killing more of that bacteria can improve air quality and decrease respiratory issues.
The research team recognized that there is research that suggests our immune systems are better built when exposed to dirt and germs, and that they believe the focus of future research will be in working to promote the growth of good bacteria that can build our immune system while better controlling the bad bacteria that is found alive in dust.
Natural sunlight also boosts our Vitamin D levels, which plays into the health of our immune systems and also helps with mood, particularly during winter months where sunlight is lacking.
So pull those blinds back! You can call it dusting!