I always thought that cleanliness was next to godliness. When it comes to bathing however, I firmly believe there are two camps. Those who like to lounge in a tub pretending to relax by reading a book while the bubbles dissipate, the water turns cold and you lay in your own filth, and then there’s those who do not find standing onerous and love the feeling of hot water spraying over their body. I am firmly in the shower camp. I try to enjoy a good bath, but truth be known, after 5 minutes I’m bored or I’ve gotten so hot that I’m sweating and need to take a shower to cool down. The same can be said for me in hot tubs….
After reading a recently published study done by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, I may have to rethink how I bathe and contemplate bathing as opposed to showering. Well, at least in some parts of the USA. Researchers found that the prevalence of pathogenic mycobacteria in showerheads correlated to regions where nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung infections are most common. It’s not unknown that bacteria thrive in showerheads and throughout household water distribution systems. Generally, we have nothing to worry about, however upon occasion the type of bacteria found can lead to infections. The researchers surveyed showerheads in households across the USA and found that the bacterial population differed by region and the type of water. Surprisingly, households supplied with chlorinated treated water had higher levels of some types of mycobacteria.
Truth be known, we shouldn’t be surprised that showerhead biofilm can lead to infections. At least, I would hope not. Most deaths from Legionnaires' disease are tied to hospital and nursing home showers according to a 2015 report by the CDC.
If you’re concerned about your shower water quality, the five regions identified in the study are Hawaii, Florida, The upper Midwest, Southern California and The Mid-Atlantic States. Lucky me, I just spent 3 nights in Maryland in a hotel where, let’s just say, it was in a serious need of a facelift and based on the inconsistent shower spray, they do not have a cleaning and disinfection protocol to clean their shower heads. I guess I’ll just wait and see if I get sick!