Bacteria is raining down on you every time you shower, according to a new study published in the journal mBio.
Researchers swabbed more than 650 shower heads across the U.S. and Europe. They found that the most abundant strain of bacteria present was mycobacteria, which can lead to lung infection and disease in the elderly and in people with compromised immune systems.
You’re exposed to these bacteria every time you take a shower, says study author Noah Fierer, Ph.D., professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. When you turn on the water, the germs spray into the air. At that point, you can breathe them in and they can latch onto lung tissue. Though it’s unsettling to think about, most people can fight off these germs naturally.
Healthy people shouldn’t be paranoid about shower head bacteria, Fierer says. For the most efficient cleaning, prioritize your faucet handles and toothbrush holder, which separate research found to be the dirtiest bathroom surfaces.
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