For many people, a quick shower before heading out for work or school or after a long day has become an important part of their daily routines.

But unknown to many, showerheads can harbour dangerous bacteria which can undermine the health of humans. In particular, the build-up of slime on showerheads makes the perfect habitat for different microorganisms that cause diseases. This build-up of slime protects these bacteria from chlorine found in the water which is meant to destroy these microorganisms.

Showerheads and hoses make the perfect habitat for dangerous organisms because they do not dry completely. In turn, it becomes easier for lime scale to accumulate over time, which then facilitates the buildup of biofilms and bacteria. Biofilm refers to the thin layer of microorganisms which leads to the formation of slime on surfaces that come into contact with water. The presence of biofilm and scale can protect bacteria from the chlorine in the water as well as temperature which would otherwise kill bacteria found in the water.

One of the dangerous microorganisms that may survive in your bathroom is the Legionella bacterium. The bacteria are commonly found in water and poses little harm to people when their population is small in number. However, the bacteria pose a serious health threat when they have access to nutrients and the temperature of their habitat is within the 20 to 45 degrees Celsius range.

Legionella bacteria are responsible for Legionnaires' disease, a type of pneumonia. The bacteria can wind their way into the human body when droplets of the contaminated water are inhaled. Although everyone can succumb to Legionnaires' disease, some people are considered to be more vulnerable to it. These include the elderly, smokers, alcoholics and those who are immunocompromised.

There are several strategies that can and should be enforced in order to prevent an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, primary of which is ensuring that the temperature used for storing and distributing water is beyond the ideal range for Legionella bacteria to multiply and thrive.

It is also beneficial to flush out showerheads and taps that are rarely used at least once a week. It is also advisable to clean showerheads and taps with the appropriate cleaning agents like Shower Head Plus.

Shower Head Plus
 has passed the European Legionella Disinfection Test Standard (1995) and is currently being used by various hotel groups, hospitals and the MOD to remove biofilms and sludge from shower heads and minimise the risk for Legionnaires’ disease.

Written by: +Duncan Hollis