In a previous post “That hot shower a little too relaxing?” I mentioned chloroform as one contaminant of shower water. It may seem rather amusing but remember that chloroform was banned as an anaesthetic as it was shown to cause heart attacks in people and kidney and liver tumours in animals.
Even if you don’t live in an area with heavy metal contamination, there are plenty of other chemical toxins in the water including carcinogens involving from chlorine and bromine.
But putting the chemicals aside for the moment, there are plenty more reasons why your morning shower may be one of the more risky things you do on a daily basis. One study by US researchers demonstrated a thriving bacterial culture growing on the average vinyl shower curtain. Taking advantage of that nutritious soap scum, charming guests such as those from the Sphingomonas and Methylobacterium families have been found. These are opportunistic pathogens who would love to infect any cuts or scrapes you may have.
What about mildew? Loving the damp walls and ceiling of your bathroom, those grey spots give off millions of spores. For asthmatics or people with an allergy to moulds, mildew build-up in bathrooms can be fatal. For the rest of us, the mycotoxins – chemicals produced by these moulds can cause lethargy, headaches and nausea.
Showers have other problems. Slippery when wet, many people injure themselves slipping or falling in the bath or shower. Cornell University estimates that more than one American is killed every day from such a fall (most over the age of 65).
Now add in the number of accidental drownings for infants and toddlers and serious scalds from hot water and you can see why the bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the house.
So when you stumble bleary-eyed into the bathroom for your morning shower, don’t think cleansing, refreshing water, think Hitchcock’s Psycho with a larger arsenal.
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Weill Medical College of Cornell University (2006) Bathing For Older People With Disabilities http://www.cornellaging.com/gem/research_bathing_magnitude.html