Dog poop on the ground -- and in the air

August 23, 2011|By Jill Rosen | The Baltimore Sun

People loooooove to complain about dog poop under foot. Understandable. Wait till they find out that wayward exrement is also turning up in the air.

You can't escape it!

According to a new study by University of Colorado Boulder, most of the wintertime airborne bacteria in Cleveland and Detroit is fecal matter. And most likely, it's the fecal matter of dogs.

I'll repeat that -- it's not just that poop is turning up in the air sporadically in these cities -- it's MOST of the bacteria there.


Scientists have long known that airborne bacteria can be harmful for a number of reasons -- things like allergies and asthma. But they didn't know just how many different types of bacteria were floating around up there. According to researchers, the dog poo variety came as something of a surprise.

The thinking goes that in the summer, the bacteria floats skyward from the soil, plants and waterways. But in the witner, when things freeze and snow covers the ground, there isn't that much left to go airborne -- but dog feces. Certainly in Detroit and Cleveland.

"As best as we can tell, dog feces are the only explanation for these results," Noah Fierer, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department said in a statement. "But we do need to do more research."

In the meantime, Cleveland and Detroit might want to be better about seasonal scooping.

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