What are the pink stains in my toilet?

| by Howard Esbin
What are the pink stains in my toilet?

Pink residue is generally not a problem with water quality. A pink discoloration may be a result of iron found in some well water or old pipes in the delivery system but would not be isolated to only one toilet, one fixture or one room. In most cases a pink residue is likely a result of airborne bacteria which produce a pinkish or dark gray film on moist surfaces. This film is usually found as a ring that accumulates at the water line in the toilet bowl or around showerheads, shower doors or curtains, sink drains, bathtubs, tiles and grout.

Some people have also noted that the pink residue appears in their pet’s water bowl, which causes no apparent harm to the pet and is easily cleaned off.

Many experts agree that the bacteria that causes these pink stains is most likely Serratia Marcescens, a bacteria which is found naturally in soil, food, and in animals. Serratia, which produce a characteristic red pigment, thrive on moisture, dust, and phosphates and need almost nothing to survive. Serratia is easily carried airborne and will seek a moist location in which to grow. Some people have reported that the pink residue only appears during certain times of the year, when their windows or doors are left open for part of the day. Ironically good ventilation will not help. These bacteria are present in a number of environments and wind can carry the airborne bacteria or dust in which the bacteria are present. Serratia marcescens thrives in conditions that are wet and seek a constant introduction of fat or phosphorous-laden materials, such as feces, urine, soap, gels and shampoo products and/or food products.

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Topics: Sinks & Toilets, Water Filtration & Water Quality, Water Quality

Companies: Environmental Water Systems


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