Your Stainless Steel Sink Might Be Putting You at Risk for This Deadly Disease

Yep, the place you wash your hands could be putting your health in danger.

sinkCarolyn Franks/shutterstockYour kitchen sink is a petri dish, hosting upwards of 18,000 bacteria per square inch. This knowledge is neither new nor surprising as the sink serves a superhighway for all sorts of waste. But as it turns out, what passes through your sink isn’t the only cause for health concerns, according to New Scientist.

Stainless steel sinks can pose a particularly unique problem as opposed to their porcelain and copper counterparts: an increased risk of Legionnaires’ disease. The issue arises when the coating commonly applied to all stainless steel surfaces starts to degrade, creating an ideal breeding ground for the potentially deadly disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease start off as a headache, muscle pain, chills, and a high fever, and can grow by day two to include a severe cough with blood or mucus, shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological changes.

In a study overseen by Wilco van der Lugt, a safety engineer with expertise in Legionnaires’ prevention, a team of researchers tested water with and without the Legionella Anisa bacteria after it ran through a variety of different water tap systems.

The stainless steel tap system provided the most fertile ground for the disease to survive, with 50 percent of all tests turning up positive for Legionnaire’s disease. The degradation of the protective coating on the stainless steel fixtures led to rust, and rust allows the Legionella Anisa bacteria to multiply.

Typically, if your tap water is not contaminated, then you should be in the clear from this disease. But the Legionella bacteria can pop in plenty of peculiar places, like hot tubs, so it’s best to be safe if you suspect something. The disease has been on the rise over the last 15 years, so in order to not become a statistic, follow the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s guidelines and keep your hot water taps between 122 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

[Source: New Scientist]

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