One of my favorite things to do as soon as I get home from work is to have a hot, soapy shower and wash off the day. I have all sorts of wonderful Crabtree and Evelyn soap, and it's so refreshing. What could be nicer, right? And what else could make us feel so clean and invigorated than a hot shower, right? Well, it turns out that, according to a recent study done, showerheads are breeding grounds for bacteria that clump together and turn into a spray that soaks and may infect unsuspecting bathers.
Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder tested water before and after it passed through showerheads in nine cities, including New York, and found that levels of bacteria increased 100-fold on the way out. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The most plentiful microbe found, mycobacterium avium, can cause symptoms similar to tuberculosis, including respiratory problems, fever and fatigue. While the levels are unlikely to harm healthy people, they could pose risks to people with AIDS or weakened immune systems, said Laura Baumgartner, a research fellow.
"It's no more dangerous for the average person than getting out of bed in the morning," Baumgartner said. "But if you're immune-suppressed, with diseases like cystic fibrosis or AIDS, it could be worrisome."
People may minimize the risk, Baumgartner said. One way is to not stand under the shower for the first 30 seconds, while the bacteria are sprayed out. Another is to use all-metal showerheads because plastic seemed to breed more of the bacteria. ... Newsday.com
Omigoodness, what next?
I once read that Janet Leigh said she was not able to take showers again, after filming the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", the scene frightened her so much. Who would ever have guessed there was more menace coming from the hot, refreshing water than any danger from Norman Bates. I have never been able to watch that scene completely through; I always have to leave the room. And on occasion when I have been in the shower, I have glanced at the shower curtain, and thought ... "What if" ... Well, it turns out that the real danger is the stuff coming out of the shower head, and clinging to the shower curtain, and the tiles, and the bathtub and the bath mat...
Please excuse me while I go and find my bleach.