Narrated Abu Malik Al-Harith ibn Aasim Al-Ash`ari: Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Cleanliness is half of Faith."
Allah, the Almighty, says,
[Surely, Allah loves those who turn much to Him, and He loves those who purify themselves.] (Al-Baqarah 2:222)
Considering how Islam, like other world religions, advocates cleanliness as emphasized numerous times in the Qur'an and Hadith, one would not typically associate danger with such a virtuous habit.
However, modern methods of bathing have become such a health risk that they are starting to rival the health risks associated with the ancient public baths.
While trying to improve the convenience of our traditional bathing options, modern technology has created new hazards that many are not aware of. These hazards include bacteria in showerheads, molds in the bathrooms, and chlorine in the water used.
What Is Going On in There?
A recent research conducted at the University of Colorado tested 45 showerheads from nine cities and found that 30 percent of them contained bacteria linked with pulmonary diseases.
Norman Pace, the lead researcher on the project, found that these bacteria clump together on the insides of the showerheads and are then released each time the shower is turned on. Once these mycobacteria are released with the water, they can easily suspend in the air where they can be inhaled.
People who have allergies or whose immune systems are compromised (by diseases, drugs, or a polluted environment) are at the highest risk of being affected by these bacteria.
One interesting notation is that these mycobacteria are resistant to chlorine, one of the substances added to the public water system to kill harmful organisms before they reach homes.
Along with chlorine, there are a number of chemicals in the tap water that can cause visible damage to hair and skin, as well as invisible damage to the entire body system, including putting people at a higher risk of cancer. These chemicals include chlorine, chloroform, DCA (dichloroacetic acid), and MX (a chlorinated acid).
Chlorine hardens arteries, destroys proteins, irritates skin, and aggravates sinus infections and all respiratory problems. Chloroform, DCA, and MX are all by-products of chlorine and can cause excessive cell mutation, which could lead to cancer.
Research indicates that there is an increased risk of bladder and rectal cancer in people who drink chlorinated water. However, tests show that by taking a 10-minute shower a person is absorbing as much chlorine as he or she would by drinking eight glasses of water.
This is because a warm shower opens up the pores, causing each person who showers to absorb the chlorine through the skin, while inhaling it from the shower steam as well.
The only solution to this problem is to install a showerhead that filters water from chlorine, as chlorine is a required ingredient in all public water supply systems.
In fact, Dr. Lance Wallace from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, "Showering is suspected as the primary cause of elevated levels of chloroform in nearly every home, because of chlorine in the water."
Releasing the Molds
Since chlorine was introduced into the water system as a standard in 1904 in the UK, cases of childhood asthma have increased by 300 percent, and cancers have been on the rise.
According to the US Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93 percent higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.
Another study carried out in Hartford, Connecticut, found that "women with breast cancer have 50 percent to 60 percent higher levels of organochlorines (chlorination by-products) in their breast tissue than women without breast cancer."
However, once you remove the chlorine from your water, the risk of mold growth in your bathroom will increase. Molds in the bathroom are the third-largest health hazard associated with cleanliness.
To clean molds from your bathroom, you first need to make sure that your bathroom is properly ventilated and that all leaks are taken care of. Each time the bathroom is used, it should be aired out with a vent or an open window and kept as dry as possible. One should also be diligent about checking windowsills, rugs, and shower curtains that are famous for harboring mold colonies.
Once the problem of moisture is taken care of, mold that has already grown can be eradicated using tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract (GSE), or simple vinegar.
Start by washing and scrubbing the area with baking soda or other cleanser. Be sure to use an abrasive sponge and wear a mask. Once your initial cleaning is finished, you should cover the entire area with a mold inhibitor. You can use straight vinegar in a spray bottle, or you can combine two teaspoons of tea tree oil or twenty drops of GSE with two cups of water and spray on all previously washed and scrubbed surfaces. Do not rinse. This will kill any remaining mold and will prevent additional mold from forming.
Exposure to mold can affect the health of many people. The most common effects are allergic responses, such as hay fever or asthma, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, or lungs.
Other symptoms of mold exposure can include depression, nasal congestion, respiratory problems, headaches, and rashes. What can be deceptive and even more dangerous is that these reactions may not be immediately noticed and traced back to molds. One of the most common symptoms of mold exposure is pneumonitis, a disease that resembles bacterial pneumonia.
Reactions to molds can build up in a person, causing the immune system to deteriorate or allergies to become more severe over time.
Bryner, Jeanna. "Showerheads May Be Spraying Out Bacteria." MSNBC. 16 Sept. 2009. Accessed 21 Jan. 2010.
Group, Dr Edward F III "Chlorine, Cancer, and Heart Disease." Global Healing Center. Accessed 21 Jan. 2010. 2009.
Howard, Stan. "Chlorine in Your Shower Water." Annie's Appleseed Project.
By Karima Burns