Scientists discover astonishing levels of bacteria in belly buttons

December 28th, 2012 Category: Office Cleaning

New research has discovered that people are carrying around a surprisingly high number of bacteria in their tummy buttons, even if they shower or bathe daily.

A team of scientists in the US took in a number of study participants and swabbed their umbilical area with cotton buds. They then placed the buds in a laboratory to see what, if anything, would grow.

The humourously-named Belly Button Biodiversity (BBB) project discovered a total of 2,368 species of bacteria, with many subjects having unique organism profiles.

More than 1,000 of the bacteria could be new to science, according to National Geographic, while the scientists were surprised to find others present that had previously only been spotted in environments such as Japanese soil.

One person had two species of "extremophile bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents".

"You have more kinds of bacteria in your belly button than there are different kinds of ants or birds in North America," said the researchers.

However, the BBB co-ordinators reassured people who may be concerned about their hygiene levels by saying: "The vast majority of bacteria in the world live in harmony with us and don't want to kill us."

However, Dr Claire Cronin from the Massachusettes Medical Society told the Atlantic that people may need to know more about how to ensure a healthy umbilical environment.

"There is a surprising lack of awareness on the public's part as to what can accumulate in a belly button … It has not received the same level of attention that the area behind the ears has," she added.

It may prompt business owners to bring in office cleaning specialists to ensure these bacteria don't end up in workplaces, particularly since Kimberly Clark recently recommended using contract cleaners after finding that office kitchens and break rooms are germ hotspots.