There’s a correlation between the levels of bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract of children and the amount of common chemicals found in their home surroundings, according to a team of researchers.
A team of researchers for the first time has found this correlation.
The work, published this month in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, could lead to a better understanding of how these semi-volatile biological compounds may have an effect on human health.
Courtney Gardner, assistant professor in the Washington State University Branch of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is lead creator on the paper, which she completed as a postdoctoral researcher in collaboration with Duke University.
The intestine microbiome, the community of microbes that live in our intestinal tract, has develop into of increasing interest to researchers lately. The microbes in our intestine, which come with a large variety of bacteria and fungi, are thought to have an effect on many processes, from nutrient absorption to our immunity, and an unhealthy microbiome has been implicated in diseases ranging from obesity to asthma and dementia.
In the study, the researchers measured levels of ubiquitous semi-organic compounds in the blood and urine of 69 toddlers and preschoolers and then, the usage of faecal samples, studied the children’s intestine microbiomes.
The semi-volatile biological compounds they measured included phthalates that are used in detergents, plastic clothing such as raincoats, shower curtains, and personal-care products, such as soap, shampoo, and hair spray, in addition to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are used in stain- and water-repellent fabrics, coatings for carpets and furniture, nonstick cooking products, polishes, paints, and cleaning products. People are exposed day-to-day to such chemicals in the air and dust in their homes, particularly young children who might ingest them by crawling on carpets or ceaselessly putting objects in their mouths.
When the researchers looked at the levels of fungi and bacteria in the intestine, they found that children who had higher levels of the chemicals in their bloodstream showed differences in their intestine microbiome.
Children with higher levels of PFASs in their blood had a discount in the amount and diversity of bacteria, while increased levels of phthalates were associated with a discount in fungi populations.
The correlation between the chemicals and not more abundant bacterial organisms used to be particularly pronounced and potentially most concerning, Gardner said.
“These microbes are maybe not the main drivers and may have more subtle roles in our biology, but it might be the case that this type of microbes does have a unique operate and decreasing its levels may have remarkable health impacts,” she said.
The researchers also found, surprisingly, that the children who had high levels of chemical compounds in their blood also had in their intestine various kinds of bacteria which were used to clean up poisonous chemicals. Dehalogenating bacteria have been used for bioremediation to degrade persistent halogenated chemicals like dry cleaning solvents from the surroundings. These bacteria don’t seem to be most often found in the human intestine.
“Finding the increased levels of these kind of bacteria in the intestine means that, potentially, the intestine microbiome is attempting to right itself,” Gardner said.
Gardner hopes to use the information gathered from the study to develop a diagnostic tool for people and maybe future probiotic interventions to support health outcomes.
“While these data do not denote causation, they offer an indication of the types of organisms that can be impacted by exposure to these compounds and supply a springboard for future research,” she said. “Gaining a more holistic understanding of the interactions between human-made chemicals, intestine microbiome, and human health is a critical step in advancing public health.”
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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