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Report Suggests Research Agenda for Indoor Microbiology, Human Health, and Buildings
A consensus study report published over the summer by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine outlines a research agenda intended to advance stakeholders’ understanding of the ecosystem of built environments, indoor microbiomes, and the effects on human health and well-being. “Microbiomes of the Built Environment” also assesses the current state of knowledge about the interactions among human occupants, built environments, and associated microbial communities, and reviews the intersections of the fields related to the study of this topic, including microbial biology and ecology, chemistry, building science, and human physiology. The authors’ proposed research agenda is intended to advance “a vision of the future in which buildings can be designed and operated to better support occupant health, improve the sustainability of building systems and materials, and lower energy usage.”
“A more purposeful approach to managing buildings and their microbiomes reflected in this vision for the future will result in building occupants who are more informed about and engaged in improving their indoor environments,” the report reads.
The authors identify five major research objectives to help fill gaps in the knowledge of the microbial, physical, chemical, and human systems that interact to make up the built environments in which people in developed countries spend approximately 90 percent of their time. The new report outlines the need for researchers to characterize interrelationships among microbial communities and built environment systems of air, water, surfaces, and occupants, and assess the influences of the built environment and indoor microbial exposures on the composition and function of the human microbiome, on human functional responses, and on human health outcomes.
The report is available to download on the National Academies website.

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