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You may be doing your body good by taking that morning run or working up a sweat at the gym. But when you also work up a thirst and take a swig from your trusty refillable water bottle you may actually taking a swig of harmful germs.

New research shows that an incredible amount of bacteria — including E. Coli and salmonella — may be lurking in and on your water bottle.

Laboratory tests by Treadmill Reviews, a Minneapolis-based firm, analyzed 12 water bottles used by athletes and not washed for a week and found they had such high levels of bacteria that drinking from them would be like “licking a toilet seat.”

They tested four types of reusable bottles: A slide-top, screw-top, squeeze-top and straw-top. The researchers evaluated the amount of contamination in terms of “colony forming units,” or CFUs, of bacteria per square centimeter. Here are their findings:

  • The bottles contained an average of 300,000 CFU of bacteria. That’s six times as much bacteria as you’d find on your pet’s food bowl. And much of the bacteria was the kind that makes you sick.
  • The slide-top bottles contained the highest amount of bacteria: A whopping 933,340 CFU. They also had the most gram-positive germs which have been linked to skin infections, pneumonia and blood poisoning.
  • Squeeze-top bottles were next with 162,000 CFU followed by screw-top vessels with 160,000 CFU. These also housed 99 percent of the harmful bacteria.
  • Straw-top bottles were the clear winners with only 25 CFU. But that’s only 2 CFU less than the average home toilet seat. It is thought that these are safer because water drips down to the bottom of the straw rather than hang out at the top attracting moisture-loving germs.

“Based on our test results, we suggest opting for a straw-top bottle, both for the prevalence of bacteria and the lack of harmful germs,” says the fitness Website. They suggested that stainless steel water bottles are a better choice than plastic…

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