A lung disease-causing bacteria, mycobacteria, is prevalent in showerheads. The University of Colorado at Boulder study tested DNA from 656 American and European households. Results found that mycobacteria are more prevalent in households with municipal tap water as opposed to well water. Mycobacteria abundance was also found to be more prevalent in American showerheads, which researchers hypothesize could be due to the fact that mycobacteria is partially resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants used in the U.S. The study mapped out where mycobacteria was most prevalent and found that these locations are also where non-tuberculous mycobacterial lung disease is prevalent (parts of Southern California, Florida, and New York). Researchers conclude that showerheads may play a role in disease causality. mBio
→Takeaway: Scientists will use this information to further investigate and alter our water systems, from disinfectant to plumbing, especially in high mycobacteria areas, in hopes to lessen pathogenic bacteria health risks. While the researchers who conducted the study want to emphasize, “there is definitely no reason to fear showering,” you may be wondering: what can I do in my household to mitigate mycobacteria-related health risks? Use a plastic showerhead, which were found to harbor less mycobacteria.