Microorganisms: Investigating Alderman

Microorganisms are living species that are microscopic to the naked eye. They are so small that millions of them can fit onto the head of a needle (MicrobeWorld). They are the earliest form of life on Earth, ranging from Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, Protists, and Viruses. So where exactly are they found? The answer is everywhere. On surfaces, our hands, our food, even the air we breathe.

Thousands of students touch the same surfaces every day: door handles, computer keyboards, bathroom faucets. The simplest means of microorganism transmission is indeed our hands. Within a 30 minute time frame from 7:30-8:00pm, 18 women pushed the same door handle to the fourth floor restroom in Alderman library. In that same period of time, 31 students pressed the same elevator key to lower levels, and 76 students pushed the same spring bar on the main entrance door. We carry thousands of microorganisms on our hands and the more surfaces we touch, the more we contract and the more we leave behind (Middle School Math and Science). On average, 150 species of bacteria coexist on our hands, so imagine the number of them just present on door handles and surfaces in this library.

Now, are all of them harmful? Not at all. Microorganisms help protect our body from harmful bacteria and pathogens, produce some vitamins, aid in digestion, and can be beneficial to other organisms. Microorganisms in interior spaces can be transported indoors from the outside environment, come from human skin cells, or can develop due to moisture. Near the main entrance in Alderman library, there is increased humidity from the doors constantly opening and closing, which fosters microbial growth. The carpet also provides an area for microorganisms to accumulate from foot traffic, drink and food spills, and bodily fluid deposition (coughing and sneezing) (Leonas). Microorganisms also collect on dust particles, which can be transported by humans or remain airborne. They need water to survive, and dust particles are an excellent source of it.

Ways to manage microbial growth? Cleaning and washing your hands. Although some microorganisms are harmless, others have the ability to transmit viruses. And the presence of them is positively correlated with the number of occupants in a public space. Since microorganisms need water to survive, indoor areas that are regularly exposed to moisture should be cleaned often, such as the restrooms.

Microorganisms are responsible for recycling waste and producing energy sources such as carbon and nitrogen. These energy sources are required for other organisms to survive, including both plants and animals. Although inside, microorganisms in interior spaces, like Alderman library, still contribute to the biodiversity of the environment as a whole.

Post by Brooke Adams


Leonas, Karen. “Microorganisms in Carpet.” (2003): n. pag. Web.

“MicrobeWorld.” What Is a Microbe? American Society for Microbiology, 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

“Middle School Math and Science.” Middle School Math and Science. Ohio State University, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.