Despite its purported cleansing properties, holy water could actually be more harmful than healing, according to a new Austrian study on “holy” springs.
Researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna and found samples contained up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, none of it safe to drink.
Tests indicated 86 percent of the holy water, commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants’ lips, was infected with common bacteria found in fecal matter such as E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacter, which can lead to diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.
Nitrates, commonly found in fertilizer from farms, were also identified in the water. If ingested, water containing nitrates over the maximum contaminant level could cause serious illness, especially in infants younger than 6 months, which could lead to death if untreated, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We need to warn people against drinking from these sources,” said Dr Alexander Kirschner, study researcher and microbiologist at the Medical University of Vienna.
The study, published in the Journal of Water and Health, also found that all church and hospital chapel fonts contained bacteria – the busier the church, the higher the bacterial count.
“This may represent a problem that has hitherto been underestimated, especially in hospitals, since there a lot of people with weakened immune systems there,” Kirschner said. (source)
What you mean that a font where people dip their hands into all day could contain bacteria? What a shock. Besides there is usually not much connection between springs and Holy Water fonts which mostly use tapwater.
Must have been a slow news day for Good Morning America. Still I wonder how many people ingest Holy Water directly from a font? Or really how many drink it at all?
Can we bless Purell?
Yes just another danger attending Church.
Incense and candles release substantial quantities of pollutants that may harm health, a detailed new study of air quality in a Roman Catholic church suggests.
Even brief exposure to contaminated air during a religious service could be harmful to some people, says atmospheric scientist Stephan Weber of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany. A previous study in the Netherlands indicated that the pollutants in smoke from incense and candles may be more toxic than fine-particle pollution from sources such as vehicle engines.
Numerous studies have examined the health effects of combustion by-products from major outdoor sources, such as automobiles and power plants. Researchers have also examined some sources of indoor pollution, including stoves. But there have been few investigations of the health consequences of candles and incense, even though they are usually lit indoors, sometimes in crowded spaces with limited ventilation.
Weber conducted the new study in St. Engelbert Church in Mulheim an der Ruhr, Germany. The church staff burns candles during each mass and incense on some holidays.
Weber installed two devices that continuously sampled air during a 13-day period that began on Christmas Eve of 2004. The equipment measured concentrations of particles up to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) and also those 1 [micro]m or smaller (PM1), which endanger people’s hearts, lungs, and arteries (SN: 8/2/03, p. 72).
During the study, incense burners and candles were lit for services at midnight on Christmas Day, on the morning of the following day, and on New Year’s Eve. During services on other days, only candles burned.
If they banned incense would that be censorship?