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The Office-ome

Even indoor spaces like an office building have their own microbiomes and people's exposure to them may affect their health, Wired's Zoë Schlanger writes. She notes that when she worked in an office building with windows that didn't open, "[e]ach time a denizen of that floor got a cold, it decimated at least a third of the floor's employees. For the next week or two, a swath of cubicles would sit empty."

To better understand the microbiome of indoor spaces like offices and figure out what influences their makeup, the US National Academies of Science has been pulling together teams of architects, engineers, and scientists, Schlanger notes. NAS is expected to release a review paper at the beginning of the year.

How buildings are built and how they are heated or cooled are known to influence their microbiome, but it's not quite clear how they are doing that. "Those decisions affect the microbial ecology of a building," Yale University's Jordan Peccia tells Wired, adding that "[n]ow we're trying to build a framework so we can start to model buildings and say: This design will lead to this type of microbial ecology."