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Background: Where are microbes found?

Links to activities: make your own microbes, horrid hands, soap, water, and pepper experiment.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

The above video is from BBC News.

A PDF summary of the video can be found in the downloads section below.

The “hygiene hypothesis”

The Royal Society of Public Health report “Too Clean Or Not Too Clean” published in June 2019 showed that one in four adults in the UK felt that ‘hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system’. Media frequently pose the question: “are we too clean?” which is likely to have contributed to this.

Unfortunately, because the concept of a link between reduced microbial exposure and disease is often, incorrectly, referred to as “the hygiene hypothesis” the public has come to believe that the underlying cause is “too much hygiene or cleanliness” and this often-repeated myth is now being accepted as fact.

In the last 20 years, it has become known that, although protection from harmful microbes is vital, exposure to “friendly microbes” from other people, our animal world, and our natural environment is equally important for our health. This exposure is needed to build healthy and diverse microbes in our gut, mouth, respiratory tract and on our skin. This is referred to as our microbiome. Lack of exposure to microbes due to a whole range of lifestyle changes (less time spent outdoors, overuse of antibiotics, etc) could contribute to rising levels of diseases ranging from allergies, to diabetes, to depression.

In the comments below let us know what children and adults tell you about their approach to cleanliness and exposure to microbes.

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