Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Showering can be bad for your health?

This is interesting. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder report that showering can be bad for your health...when the inside of the shower head is contaminated with a biofilm of Mycobacterium avium, which can cause lung infections in people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly and pregnant women. Symptoms include tiredness, a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath and weakness, and generally feeling unwell. Bacteria-filled water droplets suspended in the air in a shower can be inhaled into the deepest parts of the lungs.

The researchers found that of the 50 shower heads they tested (from 9 cities in 7 U.S. states), 30% of them contained M. avium at levels that were 100 times greater than that typically found in household water supplies. In particular, plastic shower heads accumulated more bacteria-rich biofilms than metal ones. Their work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Other illnesses that are known to be spread from showers include Legionnaires' disease and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Hot tubs and spa pools can also spread disease.

It's probably a good idea to let the shower run a bit before stepping in to reduce the amount of exposure to any bacteria.

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