You Won't Believe What's in Bathtub Water If you have one of the very popular whirlpool bathtubs in your home, beware! You could be sitting in a simmering pool of toxic bacteria. A study by Texas A&M University microbiologist Rita B. Moyes shows that whirlpool bathtubs can be a breeding ground for dozens of types of bacteria, many of which are potential pathogens, making such water ground zero for infectious diseases. That's right, the water in which you're leisurely soaking could be some of the filthiest and nastiest in the world. Moyes tested 43 water samples from whirlpool bathtubs--both private and public--and found that all 43 had bacterial growth ranging from mild to red-level dangerous. A whopping 95 percent showed the presence of fecal-derived bacteria, while 81 percent had fungi and 34 percent contained staphylococcus, which can cause deadly staph infections. "Whirlpool baths are almost always a prime area for potentially harmful microbes," Moyes explains. "The main reason is the lining of the pipes. They are full of inaccessible air, and water in these pipes tends to get trapped, often for long periods of time. When the jets are then switched on, this water with harmful bacteria gets blown into the tub where a person is soaking and then trouble can start." How much bacteria are in whirlpool tub pipes? Moyes says that a normal teaspoon of tap water contains an average of about 138 bacteria, with many samples not having any bacteria at all. But the same teaspoon of whirlpool tub water contains an average of more than 2.17 million bacteria. "The stagnant water in a whirlpool bathtub pipe is a great place for bacteria to grow and grow," she says. Such harmful bacteria can lead to numerous diseases, including urinary tract infections, septicemia, pneumonia, and several types of skin infections. Because of the aerosol mist created by the whirlpool action, microbes are forced into the lungs or open cuts, she explains. One type of bacteria, L. pneumophila, can cause Legionnaires Disease, of which 90 percent of all cases can be traced back to bacteria developed from a warm environment. Moyes says that as long ago as 1972, studies were done to test the bacteria levels in whirlpool baths and hot tubs, but evidence collected has often not shown sufficient reasons for concern. "That's probably because a hot tub or whirlpool as a source of infection can't be clearly distinguished from other sources," she adds. "An example might be when you develop a respiratory infection. The doctor can tell you that you do have a respiratory infection, but he or she can't tell you how you got it. WHAT CAN YOU DO? Clean out the pipes! And it's not easy. They need to be scraped. It's probably best to hire a professional to do the job AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.