What’s this pink stuff in my bathroom?

Are you seeing a pinkish substance on your bathroom fixtures that is very persistent, appearing in the shower, sink, or along the water line of your toilet bowl. When you ask your neighbors, they don’t seem to have the same problem. What is causing this? The pink residue is the result of naturally occurring airborne bacteria. The bacteria produces a pinkish film, and sometimes a dark gray film, on surfaces that are regularly moist, including toilet bowls, showerheads, sink drains, and tiles. These bacteria thrive on moisture, dust, and phosphates, and are widely distributed, having been found naturally in soil, food, and also in animals. The conditions for the survival of the bacteria are minimal, and they may even feed upon themselves in the absence of other nutrients. Many times, the pinkish film appears during and after new construction or remodeling activities. The dirt and dust stirred up from the work probably contains the bacteria, once airborne, they seek moist environments to proliferate. Some people have even noted the pink residue in their pet’s water bowl, which causes no apparent harm and can be easily cleaned off. Others have indicated that their experience with this nuisance occurs during a time of year that their windows are open for the majority of the day. These airborne bacteria can come from any number of naturally occurring sources, and the condition can be further aggravated if customers remove the chlorine from their water by way of an activated carbon filter. In the past this type of bacteria was considered harmless, but more recently some species have been linked to human urinary tract infections, secondary wound infections, and pneumonia. 

What to Do: Short of buying pink fixtures, the best solution to keep these surfaces free from the bacterial film is continual cleaning. A chlorinous compound is best, but use care with abrasives to avoid scratching the fixtures, which will make them even more susceptible to bacteria. Chlorine bleach can be periodically stirred into the toilet tank and flushed into the bowl itself. As the tank refills, more bleach can be added. Three to five tablespoons of fresh bleach should be all that is necessary. A toilet cake that contains a disinfectant can keep a residual in the water at all times. The porous walls of a toilet tank can harbor many opportunistic organisms. Cleaning and flushing with chlorine will not necessarily eliminate the problem, but will help to control these bacteria. Keep bathtubs and sinks wiped down and dry to avoid this problem. Using a cleaning solution that contains chlorine will help curtail the onset of the bacteria. While all water utilities are concerned about the quality of the product they are supplying to their customers, they cannot guarantee water quality once it leaves the pressurized distribution system arid enters the customer’s plumbing. Homeowners’ individual components and the cleanliness of their environment are not part of the utility’s responsibility to provide a safe and aesthetically pleasing product. For more information: Search, serratia marcescens on the Internet

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1. What should I do if my water is discolored?
2. I have low pressure. Who do I call?
3. Do I need a water softener if I am on City water?
4. My automatic dishwasher operator’s manual says that the amount of detergent I need to use depends on the grains per gallon of hardness in the water. What is the hardness of City water?
5. Does Elgin add fluoride to the City water supply?
6. What is the sodium content in Elgin’s water?
7. Is radon a contaminant concern in Elgin’s water?
8. Why does the water have a chlorine taste or smell? How can I remove it?
9. Why is my water cloudy? It looks milky.
10. My water is suddenly rusty. What should I do? Who should I call?
11. Do you give tours of your water treatment plant?
12. What’s this pink stuff in my bathroom?
13. What are these black (or red) particles coming out of my faucet?