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The Morning Shower, aka Bacteria Bath

Norman R. Pace of the University of Colorado and colleagues have found that the morning shower is essentially a bath in bacteria.

"As part of a project to measure microbes in the indoor human environment, they looked at shower water, in part because in showers bacteria are incorporated into fine droplets that can be breathed deep into the lungs.

The bacteria get into shower heads from the water and build up there, so the dose is highest when the shower is first turned on. Running the water for 30 seconds before stepping in would mean fewer bacteria in one’s face, Dr. Pace observed. Also, the bacteria seem to find metal shower heads a less hospitable niche than plastic ones.

He has turned up more than 15 kinds of bacteria in showers across the country, from Tennessee to Illinois, Denver and New York City, he reports this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

For New Yorkers, Pace found that the water carries a particularly high dose of Mycobacterium avium, a microbe related to tuberculosis.


Comments (1)

  1. Dr. Pace came to Iowa State as a guest speaker in our Interdepartmental Microbiology Program seminar last year and presented his findings on this topic and others. One area they have also tested with similar findings is heated indoor swimming pools. The seminar ends around 5:00pm and I normally attend a water aerobics class at 5:30pm that day of the week and so wore my bathing suit on under my clothes so I could walk to the gym after seminar. I found it funny attending a seminar discussing how heated indoor pools and shower heads (particularly older ones), tend to harbor all those different species of Mycobacteria and then going to do a fitness class in a heated indoor pool and taking a shower in an old locker room with obviously old shower heads right after. He gave a very good seminar, I am glad he agreed to accept our invitation to come out here.

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