Bacteria / Endotoxin
Note: It is important to use a humidifier as our homes’ humidity decreases in the winter months. Slant/Fin Humidifiers are the only models that deliver virtually 100% germ-free mist.
Bacteria are single-cell organisms that have cell membranes but no organized nuclei or membrane-bound organelles. Most bacteria take the form of a sphere (cocci), straight or curved rod (bacilli), spiral rod (spirochetes), or branched filaments (actinomycetes). Bacteria are 1 to 5 microns in diameter. They reproduce by simple cell division. Some bacteria can form endoscopes, which are extremely resistant to environmental factors and can remain dormant until a favorable environment is present to grow and multiply. Actinomycetes form true spores that can be released into the air. Humans inhale these spores deep into their lungs or sinuses, causing infections. Some bacterial spores become airborne when contaminated material is disturbed.
The name of the bacteria is based on its genus and shape. Bacteria are classified by the way they react to Gram-stains (Gram-positive or Gram-negative), shape, oxygen utilization, spore production, substrate utilization, metabolite production, and their ability to cause disease. Bacteria serve a very important function in nature, but some can cause infections leading to mild and severe illnesses. Typically indoor air is dominated primarily by Gram-positive cocci (Strep and Staph) and to Gram-positive non-sporulating bacilli (Actinomycetes). These bacteria originate primarily from human sources such as shedding human skin and mucous membranes. Gram-negative bacteria include E. Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas, and Legionella. These can produce endotoxins and infections. The presence of these bacteria in the indoor air is unhealthy and indicates overcrowding of the occupied space or insufficient supply of fresh air from outdoors. High levels of Bacillus species in the indoor air generally indicate the presence of past water damage and lack of adequate maintenance in the building or house. Elevated levels of Gram-negative bacilli usually indicate a contaminated interior source that warrants further attention. Elevated levels of Bacilli are of concern. Actinomycetes contamination of the indoor environment is likely to be accompanied by other microbial contamination.
Bacterial contamination can lead to extended illnesses that affect the upper and lower respiratory system. It can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and infection of the nervous system. Endotoxins are substances derived from the cell membrane of bacteria that are Gram-negative such as Pseudomonas. When bacteria are destroyed, part of the outer membrane, lipopolysaccharides (endotoxins), is released. When inhaled, it can cause fever, chills, malaise, and headaches. This occurs due to the activation of macrophages in the lungs, as well as other cells there, releasing mediators of inflammation. Effects of chronic, moderate level exposure include bronchitis and asthma-like symptoms.
Anti-microbial pesticides are substances or mixtures of substances used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces. Anti-microbial products contain hundreds of different ingredients and are marketed in several formulations: sprays, liquids, or powders. Nearly 60% of anti-microbial products are registered to control infectious microorganisms in hospitals and other health care environments. While we try to keep the environment free of bacteria, we tend to pollute the environment with harmful chemicals.
Anti-microbial agents have two major uses:
- Disinfect, sanitize, reduce, or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms
- Protect surfaces (for example, floors and walls), water, or other chemical substances from contamination or deterioration caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, algae, or slime.