By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
Next time you take a shower, run it for a minute or so before you get in -- or else you'll get a face full of bacteria, according to new research.
Shower heads harbor 100 times the bacteria as regular drinking water, according to new research.
Led by microbiologist Norman Pace, a team of researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder, analyzed the build-up of microbes in shower heads at 45 sites in the United States.
The result? Significant quantities of bacteria -- nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), particularly Mycobacterium avium -- were found in the shower heads, at levels 100 times as high as those found in drinking water.
Their work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
M. avium is responsible for a type of pulmonary disease in developed countries, cases of which have risen in parallel with the rise in showering, Pace said.
The m. avium bacteria tends to be a problem in municipal water supplies, such as in New York City. Since cities' treatment of the water with chlorine kills most but not all bacteria, the process gives avium a selective advantage.
"For most people, taking a shower is not dangerous, but if you are immune compromised, such as the elderly or pregnant, it could be," he said in a statement.
The disease is more prevalent than TB in developed countries.
His advice? Don't use shower heads made of plastic, which are more hospitable to bacteria than metal ones. And if you see anything crusty on it, toss it in the trash.
Sep 15, 2009
So. what happen if you don?t take a shower? you make no sence. Have you talk with you Dr. You look sick.
to build your immune system. That's why people who work with topsoil in gardens, have better immune systems. They are exposed to wide range of bacteria and other things. This only should scare people with comprimised immune systems.
Do you have instant hot water? Most people do not. I suspect that under pressure any bacteria in the water path will be flushed out within seconds and before the water is at the desired temperature. Do we really need more to fear?
I'm a bit surprised at the responses here. Nusca is a journalist, and a well educated one. He's reporting on a not surprising or scientifically interesting finding that is however very relevant to daily life. The bacteria in your shower head is mostly of concern to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Accepted. A crusty shower head should be cleaned or replaced. The crustyness comes from calcium and iron deposits not bacteria, but it dramatically increases the surface area on bacterial scale. Makes sense, but as above it is mostly relevant to those with weak immune systems. This is what I got from the post. You expect more for free online? You can get a "post" on a blog for free and the author gets paid pennies to write it. Or you can actually support real journalism, buy a newspaper or online subscription to one, and let journalists do real journalism for a living wage.
At least you don't see the bacteria squirming in your water: http://www.kptv.com/news/20911523/detail.html (you have to watch the video to get the full effect). :P
You have GOT to be kidding! This is BS! What about my kitchen sink faucet? What about my comb? What about my toothbrush? What about my pillow, my mattress, my pots and pans, the air in my house, office, tavern, park, airplane, or what about my wife? Stop this nonsense! As a biochemical engineer, I know what I am talking about. Incidentally, there is nothing in the everyday world akin to an operating room, so get used to living on the Earth. And the only people who MIGHT want to be more careful are babies under 6 months old, people with AIDS, people on certain cancer medications, and probably YOU, Mr. Nusca. (Are you the same guy that cried about re-filling those Lexan water bottles?? What did GE Plastics pay you to say that?!?)
it would also be helpful if the guy who wrote the article for smart? planet would bother to think about what he had just written before he allowed it to go to press.
first, when one lives in the desert , running the shower a couple of minutes before using it is criminal. second, if one lives in a hard-water area, crustiness on a shower head is a given and has nothing to do with bacteris. i am a scinetist, have been one for at least 60 years. i do not like to read comments by scientists who have avoided thinking about what they write.