Diversity of ancient human microbiota was vast in comparison to humans living in urban environmental surroundings today. The links between high density living, the natural environment and microbial health have not been established, though chronic disease is rapidly increasing and our natural environment is decreasing due to development. The skin microbiome, as one expression of this relationship, has only just begun to be explored. Studies have shown that there is a good evidence base for a relationship between the natural environment and skin microbiota, however only indirect links have been found.
Using a mixed method approach the proposed study will investigate the relationships between a) high rise apartment residents, the natural environment and stress; b) the natural environment and the biodiversity of the human skin microbiota; and c) the human skin microbiota in relation to stress and immunological levels. Couples living in high rise apartment buildings (without indoor plants) will equally be given real,fake and no plants, and tested for stress and communities of skin bacteria over the 12mth study. Individual questionnaires will investigate any possible confounding factors and lifestyle information.
This study presents the opportunity to focus on exploring direct links between the environment and skin microbiota. It has been shown that longitudinal or cross sectional studies using pre and post testing and specific health outcomes would be beneficial and strengthen the evidence base. With a causal link, health benefits and cost savings may be found, and new environmental policies can be encouraged to benefit high-rise apartment residents.
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