What is your Human Chemical Cloud that Surrounds You

Your Microbiome Extends in a Microbial Cloud Around You, Like an Aura


This hidden, ever-present swarm is called the exposome, and while scientists have only just begun to figure out what populates this constant cloud of chemicals, bugs, and whatnot swirling around you, new research offers an unprecedented glimpse inside. Your skin is teeming with microbes. Millions of them. From the perspective of these tiny organisms, the surface of your body is their living, breathing habitat. This living layer is part of what’s called the human microbiome—the collective genomes of all the “foreign” microorganisms that live in the human body—and research on it has exploded in recent years. But within microbiome research is a brand-new field that is just beginning to understand a stunning fact: Your microbiome extends beyond yourself, into the air around you. It hovers in a cloud around your body and leaves bits of itself on surfaces wherever you go. In short, you have an aura, except it isn’t made of purplish light; it’s your personal cloud of dead skin cells, fungus and many, many microbes. And researchers are learning to be able to identify you by it. “You know the dirty kid from Peanuts? Pig-Pen? It turns out we all look like that,” says James Meadow, a data scientist at Phylagen, a company in San Francisco that focuses on improving the health of the indoor microbiome in places like hospitals and homes. (All sorts of people, places and things can have their own microbiomes.) “We give off a million biological particles from our body every hour as we move around. I have a beard; when I scratch it, I’m releasing a little plume into the air. It’s just this cloud of particles we’re always giving off, that happens to be nearly invisible.” On Tuesday, Meadow and his colleagues published a paper written while he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon. In it, he and his research partners sampled the air surrounding 11 different people in a sanitized experimental room and sequenced the microbes emanating from them. They determined that an occupied room is microbially distinct from an unoccupied one. What’s more, after three people spent four hours in a room together, giving off their microbes into the air and onto surfaces, Meadow’s team was able to distinguish each person based just on the bacteria in the surrounding air. “Each occupant’s personalized airborne signal can be statistically differentiated from other occupants,” they wrote. “This was a first stab at it to see if it was possible. We didn’t expect to be able to tell people apart,” Meadow says. “It kind of blew us away.”


Vector Illustration of Human Auras and Chakras, Eps10 Vector, Gradient Mesh nad Transparency Used