Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Want to feel icky?

I might just make this a regular feature. I'm sure I can find plenty of things which will gross people out if they stop to think about it for more than a few moments. So anyways, onto the story.

Why do people take showers? To clean themselves, right?

Well, a study revealed that one out of every five showerheads have bacterial biofilms which contain organisms responsible for causing pulmonary diseases in immunocompromised individuals.
About 20 percent of the showerhead swabs harbored significant levels of Mycobacterium avium, bacteria linked to pulmonary disease that most often infects people with compromised immune systems, said lead researcher Norman Pace of the University of Colorado, Boulder.
So when you put your head under the shower, you could very well be dousing yourself with bacteria. Not only that but the aerosol created by the shower is also inhaled and swallowed.

Lovely thought, eh?
At the end of the day, Pace doesn't recommend steering clear of the shower. "It's like anything else — there is a risk associated with it," Pace said.
Obviously you want to keep taking showers. What you might want to do though is occasionally disassemble your showerhead and set it in bleach or some other non-corrosive cleaner for a few hours before reattaching it to the plumbing. I'd also try to mechanically clean as much of the reachable parts of the showerhead to disrupt any biofilms which may form. Or, if you're like me and you buy the el-cheapo showerhead for your bathroom, you can just pitch it every 18 months or so and buy a new one.

The research* is published in this weeks PNAS (PDF, 6 pages).

*If I get the time, I may research blog this paper. I already have another research blog entry in the works.

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