A study published in the Journal of Water and Health found that holy water in 86% of churches and hospital chapels tested was contaminated with high levels of fecal bacteria including Campylobacter, e-coli and enterococci. Researchers concluded that holy water should be considered a prime source of infection. Holy water is regularly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet the lips of church congregants. The study found a direct relationship between the levels of contamination in the water and how busy the church is. One of the researchers, Dr. Alexander Kirschner, a microbiologist, said “We need to warn people against drinking from these sources.” Kirchner expressed particular concern that these contaminated water sources are found in hospitals, near high concentrations of people with weakened immune systems. For the study, researchers tested the water from 18 holy water fonts in Vienna and 21 holy springs in Austria. The study was done by researchers at the Medical University of Vienna (Austria), Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology.
Source: ABC News, September 14, 2013