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What’s Lurking in Your Shower Head

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Thank researchers at the University of Colorado the next time you get in the shower and wonder if you are bombarding your face with bacteria so nefarious it can find its way into your lungs. A team of microbiologists headed by CU’s Norman Pace discovered a fine microbe similar to the one that causes tuberculosis, called Mycobacterium avium, in fine droplets that people actually inhale during their showers, according to The New York Times.

Scientists tested about 50 shower heads in nine cities in seven states, including Denver, discovering 30 percent emitted high levels of Mycobacterium avium. Don’t get too freaked out. The scientists haven’t stopped showering because of their findings (and you shouldn’t either).

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“For the average person, it’s not a huge concern,” researcher Laura Baumgartner tells The Denver Post. “I take showers every day, and I’m not at all worried.”

But if you want to be more certain you won’t get the shallow cough, fever, fatigue, and weight loss associated with the bacteria, which lives in the grunge of your shower head, try an all-metal fixture. The best are those with filters that can be changed weekly, Baumgartner says. And don’t stand in front of the shower when the first blast of water comes out. That water is the most likely to be infested with miniature lung-eating sludge monsters.

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