Bacteria from fecal material -- in particular, dog fecal material -- may constitute the dominant source of airborne bacteria in Cleveland's and Detroit's wintertime air, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.
The CU-Boulder study showed that of the four Midwestern cities in the experiment, two cities had significant quantities of fecal bacteria in the atmosphere -- with dog feces being the most likely source.
"We found unexpectedly high bacterial diversity in all of our samples, but to our surprise the airborne bacterial communities of Detroit and Cleveland most closely resembled those communities found in dog poop," said lead author Robert Bowers, a graduate student in CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department and the CU-headquartered Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES. "This suggests that dog poop may be a potential source of bacteria to the atmosphere at these locations."
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"Sources of bacteria in outdoor air across cities in the midwestern United States" (http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/AEM.05498-11v1?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Elizabeth+Costello&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT)