Urbanization and Bacteria


Summary: This article presents new findings in a research that compared urban air to rural air in the rapidly expanding Southeastern coast of China. This research found that the air in these urban area was composed of up to 3% of bacteria that was pathogenic (1/3 of these bacteria are dangerous to humans while the other 2/3 are plant and animal pathogens.)

Connections: This article explains several of the reasons why in these areas the bacterial load is so high. One of these reasons is that in places that are highly urbanized, there is a lot of pollution. Often times, bacteria can take advantage of these carbon sources and using nitrogen and sulfate as electron acceptors, all of these things are found in higher concentrations in polluted air.

Critical Analysis: This article is definitely written for the general public that doesn’t understand too much about microbes and how they live. I found that there wasn’t enough detail, and even though I believe something like this to be totally true, I would feel more confident if there was more detail about how this study was conducted and how they determined what percentage of the   air was found to be pathogenic. However, I do like to see that this was written in a very popular magazine in a way that a person who does not have any scientific background can still read it and internalize it. This is important because we as a human race need to understand the severity of pollution in that it no only affects the temperatures on Earth, but also it affects our health in more ways than would have been previously thought.

Question: How could we “scrub” the air of these pathogenic bacteria? Is it possible to do without taking out possibly helpful bacteria from the air? Is it the pollution that is causing specifically pathogenic bacteria to grow, or is it that there is just more bacteria, good or bad, in the air?

1 Comment for “Urbanization and Bacteria”



I enjoyed reading this article as it made me think of something that I would never have thought of, so thank you for posting it. I guess I never thought of the implications of pollution in relation to the bacterial composition in the air. I agree that this paper is not as detailed as some other papers in relation to what the study actually did to achieve these results. Nonetheless, it still portrayed the main points. In relation to your question, I am sure that there are air purifiers sold on the market to get rid of bacteria in the air, but I don’t think that we could efficiently separate the good bacteria from the harmful ones. I think the best solution is to cut down on pollution (but that is easier said than done).

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