The damn bugs -- killer flu, eboli, whatever -- are raining down on us from above! Don't go out unless you're wearing hazmat gear, okay? A group at Georgia Tech working with Athanasios Nenes, an atmospheric chemist, has confirmed what has been suspected for years.
They made multiple flights and were able to collect air samples from about 30,000 feet over both land and sea. The samples turned out to contain some fungi — and a lot of bacteria. "And this was a big surprise because we didn't really expect to see that many bacteria up there," Nenes says. ...NPR
Oh, don't worry. Chances are you'll be just fine. Maybe.
Okay. Go ahead. Worry.
Back on the ground, other members of the research team used genetic techniques to identify the bacteria. One of them was Georgia Tech microbiologist Kostas Konstantinidis.
"We were able to see at least close to 100 different species, of which about 20 were in most samples," Konstantinidis says. Some of those 100 species were from the ocean. Others came from the soil and from fresh water.
There were even some E. coli. But Konstantinidis says he's not sure yet whether it's a type that makes people sick. The sample is still being analyzed. "My feeling is it will also include pathogens," he says, "but we don't have direct evidence about that yet."He says if pathogens are getting swept up into the atmosphere, it might possibly have implications for the way diseases spread. ...NPR