Antibiotic Resistance In Gyms

Summary

Researchers at BioBE and IHBE went to 42 different gyms in Oregon to vacuum up some dust samples and test microbes and chemicals in the samples. While there are too many factors in the built environment to say anything definitive we found a strong correlation between the higher levels of antimicrobials found in gyms and the presence of drug-resistant pathogens. Our research team was looking at some of the most common anti-microbial chemicals; triclosan, triclocarban, and five different parabens. These chemicals are meant to prevent pathogenic microbes from growing, but it seems they potentially have serious consequences for our health. In addition to testing samples for the presence and concentration of anti-microbial chemicals, and the overall microbial community, the team specifically looked for microbes resistant to penicillin, macrolides, and tetracycline, all common antibiotic drugs.

The research team decided to look at these chemical-microbial indoor interactions in athletic facilities because like in hospitals, the levels of drug-resistant microbes and chemical usage is higher than in many other types of built environments. To weed out extraneous microbes, the team compared the samples from the various facilities. If the same microbial species could be found in at least 75% of athletic facilities, they were considered to be part of the “core” microbiome of gyms. Six different taxa, Propionibacterium acnesPseudomonas sp., Massilia sp., C2-like viruses133 Subdoligranulum sp., and Enhydrobacter aerosaccus were determined to be part of the “core” gym microbiome. The study notes, however, that athletic facilities have all sorts of microbial species unique to a facility, each gym having its own distinctive “fingerprint”, so to speak. With a variety of people, locations, chemicals, it is unsurprising that there is such large variability in the collected samples. Even with all of this microbial “noise”, the study traced a positive correlation between high levels of triclosan and triclocarbon with antibiotic resistant microbes of these six taxa in all but one facility.

Read our publication here.

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