I am unsure if this is the proper place to ask this, or if the Biology StackExchange would be better, but I thought to start here first!

My situation is that I have been suffering from skin problems since moving into an apartment 3 years ago. Last year I asked the owner to install a new shower head, because pressure was low and I kept seeing red slime ooze out of it, even after cleaning it. She had a plumber look at it and he said to use Tilex to clean it, and soak it in vinegar. I started doing those things. No visible red slime anymore, things appeared to be okay.

Fast forward a year later, and I had to go to the doctor to get diagnosed with impetigo/staph. I believe it has been occurring over the course of 3 years and I have written it off as other skin problems, until it became an overwhelming problem. The doctor gave me medicine and it seemed to be cured.

But now a month has passed since I was cured and the symptoms started to re-appear.

I went ahead and soaked the shower head in vinegar for 8 hours. In doing so, I noticed all this black slime oozed out of the faucet below it, in the tub. Along with the black oozey slime, there was also signs of cleaner I had once used (dish soap with vinegar) and that was many months ago. This was very troubling when I saw it, so I cleaned it all up with Tilex. Everything seemed to be fine.

But then I noticed a massive amount of black mold come out of the shower head, so I wiped that off, and it was a lot!! Then I put Tilex on the shower head again, and even more mold came out. Rinse. Repeat. Gross.

I suspect this has been the culprit of all my skin woes. So I immediately replaced the shower head, against the owner's wishes. I can honestly say, the shower experience is much better. The pressure is much better. The water seems cleaner/less white. I even went as far as to buy pipe cleaning brush and clean out the shower head valve, inside and out, with Tilex and Clorox foam. From what I can tell this thing is clean now.

But how can I get the pipe tested for MSRA? How can I test the water for MSRA? Is that even a thing? It seems that they only test people for MSRA? I suspect it's the walls behind the shower are full of mold? Help!


When we finish a project we make the plumber test the water by sampling at least two faucets.

They take the samples to our local medical testing lab. Be sure to tell the lab what they’re testing for...because they’re usually testing for fecal matter.

Maybe you could call a local plumber and see who they use and what they use for taking the samples. (The testing lab will want to establish a chain of custody on who took the samples, where the samples were stored, etc.)

  • So you're saying a plumber will be able to handle this? I suspect the "plumber" she sent wasn't licensed. – AussieJoe Jul 25 '18 at 20:14
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    @AussieJoe If I were you, I’d do it myself. The lab will charge about $50 for each test. (Get the results in writing.) If the test is bad and the landlord doesn’t believe you, then there are companies that do that kind of testing. They’ll come to your house and take samples. You may have to hire a company that does asbestos abatement testing take the samples before your landlord understands the problem. They will be able to testify on your behalf if it comes to that too. – Lee Sam Jul 25 '18 at 20:24

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