In City, Breathing Subway Air Likely More Healthy Than Shower Mist

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Photo: iStockphoto

Dr. Norman Pace of the University of Colorado has been testing the air in the tunnels of New York's subway system. Surprisingly, he's learned that the air down there is pretty much the same as fresh, outdoor air, because the movement of the trains keeps it circulating. The same, however, cannot be said of the water in our showers, which often sits in the showerheads and fosters the growth of "a microbe related to tuberculosis called Mycobacterium avium," which is not killed by the chlorine treatments put into the system by the city. According to the Times, this is the only part of the "bacterial cocktail" with which you are being "sprayed in the face" every morning that can actually harm you, particularly if you are immuno-compromised. (Letting the water run for 30 seconds before you stick your face in it apparently helps significantly.) The chest complaints that result from the M. avium bacteria include the following: "lifeguard’s lung, hot tub lung, and Lady Windermere’s syndrome." Which basically all seem like things you should get in college, not as an adult in your own apartment.

Bathing, but Not Alone [NYT]