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Shower Head Bacteria Associated with Lung Infection: Study



  • Shower heads are a hotbed of bacteria, according to a new study.
  • Many bacteria are harmless, but scientists found traces of non-tuberculous mycobacteria that can cause lung infections.
  • Not everyone exposed to the bacteria is susceptible to getting sick.

    Here's some news that could make your next shower a little less relaxing: A new study found that shower heads ripened with bacteria-filled mucus that could make us sick.

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    Showering can cleanse our bodies of sweat and dirt, but over time our shower heads develop foam due to the warm, wet conditions ̵

    1; also called biofilm -. Curious to know what was in this biofilm, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder collected samples from 656 households in the United States and Europe.

    Showerheads crawl in front of bacteria. Many are not harmful, but the team found traces of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) in shower heads in the United States. NTM is particularly prevalent in parts of Southern California, Florida and New York – in all areas where NTM lung disease is more prevalent, the authors note. They believe shower heads could transmit the disease.

      shower head lurking with bacteria

    Getty Images

    What are non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)?

    The symptoms of infection include coughing, blood, shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, and fever. Not everyone develops the condition after NTM exposure, and doctors are not sure why only some people get sick. However, those who already have lung problems, older adults and people with a weak immune system are at greater risk. The infection is treated with antibiotics, according to WebMD.

    The team also found that NTM is more common in metal showerheads, as well as in US households that use municipal water via well water. Mycobacteria are resistant to chlorine in municipal water, giving them more room to grow after chlorine kills other bacteria.

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    According to the co-author of the study, Noah Fierer, more research should be done to see if our water treatments could pose a risk to us.

    "In your showerhead, a fascinating microbial world thrives, and you can be exposed every time you take a shower," Fierer said in a statement. "Most of these microbes are harmless, but some are not, and this kind of research helps us to understand how our own actions – from the water treatment systems we use to the materials in our plumbing work – can change their composition into microbial communities. "

    What does all this mean for you? You definitely should not stop taking a shower, but you may occasionally want to think about cleaning your shower head. The use of vinegar, which has been shown to kill many types of mycobacteria, is a good choice.


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