Everybody takes a shower with the main purpose of being clean to promote better health, but studies and reports have revealed that some showers can actually be ‘showering’ you with fatally harmful bacteria. American news magazine show “The Insider” actually featured how this bacteria makes its way to people’s bodies – and it’s through taps and showers lined with dark green, almost black muck. Some people think it’s just algae, but scientists claim that this build-up in a shower head or tap presents more health risks than people can imagine.

Firstly, that muck in the showerhead automatically makes it an ideal environment or breeding ground for disease-carrying bugs. Secondly, that slime actually protects the germs from the chlorine in the water, which is meant to eliminate them. Just imagine, pouring highly contaminated water over your body for years and years, and sometimes you even take a gulp-ful – you’re better off going grunge and avoiding baths all your life.

The build-up is usually composed of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Mycobacterium avium which are both associated with lung diseases and other ailments. But what’s particularly disturbing is the presence of legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) in most shower heads. This bacteria multiplies in all kinds of water systems such as hot tubs, air conditioners, faucets, and of course, showers – commonly used home features usually relied on for “comfort” and personal cleanliness. Legionella bacteria are responsible for Legionnaire’s disease which develops two to 14 days after exposure to the said bacteria. It has the following signs and symptoms: chills, high fever, severe headaches, muscle pains, cough that may bring up mucus and even blood, shortness of breath, tiredness, poor appetite, loose bowel movement, nausea, vomiting, and mental changes. This disease primarily affects the lungs, but as it worsens, it can cause infections that gradually spread throughout the different parts of the body — including the heart. If left untreated, LD can lead to a very painful death.

Medical experts and scientists claim legionella bacteria is no joke; aerosols containing legionella bacteria can cause an outbreak that can easily spread as far as 2 miles in radius, and thousands of people get infected with it each year and many die. But there are ways of preventing this from happening in someone’s home and spreading throughout the community; it’s through thorough cleaning and regular disinfection of water systems — especially that frequently used shower. Even better is to conduct legionella testing – showers and faucets will be sampled and the gunk derived from them can be sent to a lab to determine if the legionella bacteria is present. Nowadays, there are legionella test kits that households can purchase to make regular inspection easier; every household should have one to prevent serious health risks daily baths can actually cause.

+Duncan Hollis