Research finds vacuum's dust may be factor in disease vector

Sept. 30, 2013 at 5:10 PM
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ST. LUCIA, Australia, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Vacuum dust has bacteria and mold that may affect people with allergies, infants and those with compromised immunity, Australian and Canadian researchers said.

The study by Australia's University of Queensland and Canada's Laval University found resistance genes for five common antibiotics along with the Clostridium botulinum toxin gene, the American Association for Microbiology said Monday in a release.

"Even though no quantitative data are available for antibiotic resistance gene emission while vacuuming, the observed emission rates for bacteria might suggest that the genetic content of those bacterial cells, including antibiotic resistance genes, may contribute to indoor bio-aerosol exposure," researchers said.

Researchers used a special clean air wind tunnel to measure vacuum emissions from 21 vacuums of varying quality and age.

The clean air wind tunnel allowed researchers to eliminate other sources of particles and bacteria, said Queensland's Luke Knibbs said, so researchers could "confidently attribute the things we measured purely to the vacuum cleaner."

The researchers concluded that vacuums were "underrepresented in indoor aerosol and bio-aerosol assessment and should be considered, especially when assessing cases of allergy, asthma, or infectious diseases without known environmental reservoirs for the pathogenic or causative microbe."

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