Shower Heads & Bacteria

I came across this Channel News Asia article that talked about how shower heads spread bacteria.  I did a bit more research online and found this other noteworthy article:

The Daily Telegraph today reported that a “daily shower could be hazardous”. It says that US researchers have found that showerheads are “breeding grounds for bacteria and when water is passed through them, they blast out the bugs”. One of the main microbes identified wasMycobacterium avium, which can cause respiratory infections mainly in people with a weak immune system or chronic respiratory disease.

This small study looked at the microbes in 45 showerheads from nine cities in the US. Although it did find the presence of mycobacteria and other bacteria, it did not look at whether using a shower actually increased the risk of mycobacterial or other infections. This research should not cause healthy individuals to be concerned about having showers, as the mycobacterium identified is unlikely to cause illness in people with a healthy immune system.

Mycobacteria avium is common in the environment. Further research is needed to determine whether or not showerheads are an important source of mycobacterial infection in immunocompromised individuals.

Where did the story come from?

The research was carried out by Dr Leah M Feazel and colleagues from the University of Colorado. The study was funded by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. It was published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US.

What kind of scientific study was this?

This cross-sectional study looked at what bacteria can be found in showerheads. The researchers say that humans come into contact with microbes on a daily basis and showerheads may be one source of these. Layers of microbes can form on the inside of the showerhead and spread as an aerosol that could be inhaled during shower use.

They say that the increasing use of showers instead of baths has been suggested as a potential cause for an increase in lung infections by a microbe called nontuberculous mycobacterium. The researchers suggest that the increase in immunocompromised individuals in the population means that identification of potential sources of infection is important.

The researchers investigated this by taking sample swabs from showerheads and looking for genetic material from different types of microbes. Swabs were taken of the insides of 45 showerheads from nine cities in the US. Samples were taken two or three times over a period of two to 12 months from some showerheads, to determine whether the types of microbes found changed over time. Samples of the water feeding into showers were also taken at 12 sites. The researchers also took samples of the aerosols created during shower use by running three different showers for 20 minutes unoccupied and then sampling the air and testing for microbes.

What were the results of the study?

The researchers found that the showerheads contained between two and 29 varieties of microbe, and the exact type varied between sites. The types of microbes found at each site tended to stay the same, but the proportions fluctuated over time. The bacteria in the showerheads included bacteria found in water and soil.

Overall, the most common bacteria found in the showerheads were mycobacteria, mainlyMycobacteria gordonae and Mycobacteria avium. The latter can infect humans, mainly those who are immunocompromised (called an opportunistic infection), and those with HIV or AIDS are particularly at risk.

These mycobacteria were also found in the water samples, but were about 100 times more common in the showerhead swabs. Mycobacteria avium was identified in one in five showerhead samples, and accounted for an average of 32% of the microbes found in these samples.

As well as mycobacteria, there are other microbes that can be found in water and soil and are associated with respiratory disease in humans, such as staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria, but these were less common. Very few of the samples contained the microbe that causes Legionnaire’s disease (Legionella pneumophila), which accounted for only about 0.05% of the microbes identified.

When the researchers tested the aerosols created by running the showers, they found that the aerosols contained microbes representative of the water being fed into the shower, rather than the microbes living inside the showerhead.

Mycobacteria were only identified in public water system-fed showerheads, and not in well-water-fed showerheads. The researchers thought this could be because mycobacteria are resistant to chlorine that is used to treat public water sources.

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?

The researchers conclude that, “showerheads may present a significant potential exposure to aerosolised microbes, including documented opportunistic pathogens”. They say, “the health risk associated with showerhead microbiota needs investigation in persons with compromised immune or pulmonary systems”.

What does the NHS Knowledge Service make of this study?

These findings should not cause undue alarm as humans are constantly exposed to microbes. The authors of the study point out that indoor air usually has about a million bacteria per cubic metre, and tap water at least ten million bacteria per litre. Mycobacterium avium is one of several largely unavoidable bacteria known to occur in water, and particularly in hot water supplies and aerosolised water, such as fountains. Many of these bacteria are not harmful to humans, and our bodies’ defences are capable of protecting us from those that are harmful.

There is the possibility that the microbes identified could infect people whose immune systems are compromised, but it is not clear from this study how common such shower-related infections might be. Further researcher will be needed to determine whether showers do increase the risk of non-tuberculous mycobacterial infection.

There are a number of points to note:

  • Samples were taken from 45 showerheads in nine cities in the US. The results from this small sample may not be representative of all showerheads across the US or in other countries.
  • Contrary to what is implied by some of the news reports, the Mycobacteria avium from the showerheads was not found in the aerosol produced by the shower, which would reduce the likelihood of it being inhaled. The researchers suggest that this may be because the mycobacteria are released in the very start of the shower and then diluted as the shower progresses; further tests would be needed to determine if this is the case.
  • The study did not test whether the microbes found would also be present in other water taps.

Links To The Headlines

Daily shower could be hazardous. The Daily Telegraph, September 15 2009

How clean is your shower head? The peril lurking in your cubicle could be bad for your health. Daily Mail, September 15 2009

Taking showers ‘can make you ill’. BBC News, September 15 2009

Shower heads harbour germs that cause lung disease, study finds. The Times, September 15 2009

Links To Science

Feazel LM, Baumgartner LK, Peterson KL, et al. Opportunistic pathogens enriched in showerhead biofilms. PNAS 2009; Published online before print September 14

F1 – 25 Sep 2009

Pictures from Practice Sessions 1 & 2.

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The vintage cars again…

 

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Renault – practising for another “crashgate”?

 

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The pink sunset was pretty.

 

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Sigh… will have to say goodbye to my office building soon…

 

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Booze Queen & me

 

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As the sun sets…

 

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Our dinner stop

 

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She’s not called Booze Queen for nothing…

 

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Sights from around the track

 

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Brawn GP

 

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Up and coming Force India

 

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Williams (Nakajima)

 

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Ferrari

 

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McLaren (Hamilton!!!)

 

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Williams (Rosberg!!!)

The Ultimate Cheapskate

Good grief.  I just heard the ultimate story about how cheapskate some people can be!  When Bouncy’s boss bought a new handphone a couple of months ago, he threw his old phone into the dustbin.  When Bouncy found out, she actually retrieved the handphone, and sold it!  To top it off, she had the cheek to boast to her boss about what she did – and she kept the money.  Like WTH man!  How cheapskate can one get!  Despite all her talk about being "atas" and classy, she is one low down cheapskate money grabbing bitch.

Will it be Nico & Nico next year?

Reproduced from CNA site:

SINGAPORE: The 2009 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix will be Williams’ driver Kazuki Nakajima’s biggest test to date, as the 24-year-old battles to keep his place alongside team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The Japanese driver has yet to score any points in 13 races this season, and talk in the paddock is that the British racing outfit are looking to replace Nakajima with Germany’s Nico Hulkenburg for 2010.
While he seemed unfazed by the speculation, Nakajima knows a good showing here, and in the final three races, is crucial to his future in Formula 1.
Speaking to Today after a visit to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) office at One Raffles Quay with RBS ambassador Sir Jackie Stewart on Wednesday, Nakajima said: "Nothing has been said yet and I hope to stay in the team … maybe that will not happen, but I don’t think this will be my last time in Singapore and I’m confident I’ll be back next year.
"The most important thing now is to get a result and show my performance.
"Our car is strong here as it’s a street track with the highest downforce level of all the tracks. Also, Singapore is similar to Monaco, and we were strong there."
It was good for Rosberg at least, who finished sixth in Monaco, while Nakajima came in 15th, the last of the cars remaining on track.
During the visit to RBS, Nakajima and Stewart presented a cheque for $17,000 to humanitarian charity, Mercy Relief. The money was raised by the bank’s staff in Singapore via a raffle draw, which was done in conjunction with the Grand Prix.
Nakajima will be the only Asian on the grid for Sunday’s race.
From next season, the Asian continent will feature seven Grands Prix after the addition of Korea, which will make it 19 races in the 2010 calendar.
Nakajima, who is looking forward to racing in front of his home fans at the Japanese Grand Prix on October 4, is not surprised at Formula 1’s expansion in Asia.
"Basically, Formula 1 need new markets and this shows that the sport is finding more funds outside of Europe, and that’s good," he said. "It makes life easier for me as there are more races closer to my country, and the culture in most Asian countries is similar."
The sport made a huge breakthrough when Lewis Hamilton became the first black world champion last year.
Hamilton told Today just before the Italian Grand Prix in Monza that Formula 1 would eventually see an Asian champion, and Nakajima thinks it will happen in the next 10 years.
"It is a possibility, but we have to set up a good base and teach young drivers the finer points of racing, just like it is done in Japan," he said.
"Racing is not a fair sport in some ways … It’s difficult because you need the budget to compete. But if people have talent, they manage to find some way to get into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car."
Ironically, Nakajima was referring to 22-year-old Hulkenburg, the driver tipped to take over his drive at Williams.
He said: "Nico Hulkenburg is a good example. He obviously has got talent and he managed to climb up by showing speed and finding someone to back him." – TODAY

Flat Reno Update 1

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This is the hole that joins the master bedroom to the 2nd bedroom.

 

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The contractors broke one of the lights… lucky we weren’t intending to retain any of them.

 

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Here’s a pic of the living room and balcony.

 

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We find strange things in the flat everytime we pop down to inspect – like this TV remote control.  We don’t even have a TV in the flat!  Where did this remote control come from?!?!

 

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Ah… that will eventually be used as part of our toilet bi-fold doors.

 

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The sliding windows at the balcony were one of the first things that got done.

 

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The pic isn’t very clear unfortunately but that’s a pseudo-marble looking tile we’re using for our living & dining areas.

 

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Our master bdrm toilet floor tiles.

 

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Not sure what tiles these are but hey!  It’s from my ancestral hometown, Guangdong!  😛

Hairstyles

Sorry for rather frivolous posts recently but my boss went on a 2-week holiday so I’ve been kinda busy in office to process any serious thoughts.  Anyway, while doing an online search on various hairstyles with fringe, I came across this website with hairstyles for ladies with short, medium and long hair.  I thought it was cool.  Here’s the link in case anyone’s interested.

Adult Ballet

I’ve always wanted to take ballet lessons again but it’s not been easy finding suitable classes for adults.  I’ve searched online off and on over the years but never found anything credible (please don’t ask me to sign up with some half past six school).  Anyway, my latest search 10min ago gave me hope!  Looks like both SDT and YMCA offer ballet classes for adults.  SDT’s new classes (I mean, how can anyone go wrong with Singapore Dance Theatre right?), unfortunately, won’t start till Jan 2010.  So I sent an e-mail to YMCA to find out when their new classes are starting… I’m quite keen to join them asap.  Based on their criteria for their classes, I would be between an Elementary 1 & 2, I think… ‘cos… Elementary 2 requires one to be able to execute a clean single pirouette… so I got off my chair & tried.  I can do a clean single pirouette on my right leg… but not my left.  Hahahaha… but I guess I’m willing to practice hard as long as there’re classes available.

I also found a forum with folks discussing about adult ballet classes… and to my horror, these “adults” were aged 13-18.  Duh?!  Well, I guess I have to mentally prepare myself to be the oldest student in any adult ballet class… but it’s ok.  I’ll make sure this 30-year old woman puts those youngster to shame!  Muahahahahaha…..

Our Flat – Pre-Renovation

Based on our discussion with SBC Design over the weekend, the renovation for our flat will be starting tomorrow.  Yeap.  The hacking of the tiles & removal of the built-in wardrobes should start tomorrow.  Iceman and I went to the flat to take some photos of it… just to remember how it looked when we first bought it.  I must say the photos make the flat look a lot better than the state it’s in – the sellers didn’t take much care moving out – the laminate flooring is damaged quite badly, etc.

Anyway, this is just for the memory…

 

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The main door.  We’re retaining this.

 

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Shoe cabinet behind the main door.

 

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The balcony (I like the wind chime the seller left behind!)

 

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The living/dining room taken from opposite ends.

 

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The kitchen (we’re not going to have the  L-sink anymore).

 

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Kitchen toilet

 

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Master bedroom & toilet (damn ugly).

 

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2nd bedroom (taken from opposite ends).

 

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3rd bedroom

 

And that’s it!  Will post photos from the reno as we go along.  😀

Lotion for Permed Hair

iso bouncy

I’m sitting at home trying not to fall asleep ‘cos F1 Monza is starting in 58min & Azure has generously opened her place for Iceman and I to watch it.  Heh.  So I decided to do this post on lotions for permed hair.  Since perming my hair 2 Fridays ago, I’ve been looking for a suitable leave-in lotion/cream for my curls.  I bought the ISO Bouncy Creme from a shop at Raffles Place but am not very pleased with it.  I tried it for 2 days (last Mon & Tue) and felt that it dried out my hair by the end of the day.  In addition, the smell is VERY VERY strong!!  It smells as though I’m walking around with an entire salon on my head!  (This is coming from a person whose nose doesn’t pick up smells very well ‘cos of years of sinus…)

Unfortunately, I have a short memory and so I decided to give it another try today.  After all, I have a full bottle of it left so don’t waste right?  Sigh.  Regret. Now I’m typing on my laptop while choking on the smell from my hair, and thinking if I should wash my hair again, but am reluctant to do so ‘cos that’s very drying for hair.  Sigh.

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I should’ve just stuck to using the Redken Curl Refiner that Booze Queen gave me (she had half a tube left from when her hair was curly).  The Redken product is a very lightly scented (excellent!) and it holds curls quite well.  It’s twice the price of ISO but it’s good!

Excuse me while I continue choking…

Curly Hair & Me

I couldn’t resist – permed my hair last Fri.  Yuki did a “Japanese perm” this time – in short, my hair was set in curlers, doused with the first chemical, rinsed out, soaked with second chemical and the rinsed again.  The whole perming process took about 2+ hrs.  No heat was involved so the curls look softer.  They feel softer too… though mine have a tendency to straighten by half at the end of the day.  Not sure if it’s ‘cos my hair’s still very long.  Yuki said she deliberately used the medium sized curlers for me ‘cos my hair’s very stubborn… and the curls will turn into large curls by the end of the week.  I’m a little nervous abt it now actually… ‘cos I know my hair IS stubborn (yesh yesh, like me) and so I worry the curls may just disappear.

Anyway, to allay my fears, I decided to be proactive and so I searched online for “how to preserve curls while sleeping”.  This was the BEST (in terms of funniest) answer I found.

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Click on the pic to see the answer!  😛