Nontuberculous mycobacteria are everywhere in the environment, including water (both natural sources and treated tap water) and soil. Doctors and scientists believe that some patients become infected with NTM from inhalation of mycobacteria that become aerosolized by showers, kitchen sink sprayers, indoor pools, hot tubs, or from refrigerator ice makers. If you have an underlying condition that might make you more susceptible to NTM infection, you may wish to speak to your doctor about the advisability of bathing in a tub rather than showering or how you can reduce exposure in showers.
Some patients may become infected with NTM from inhalation of mycobacteria naturally existing in potting soil while gardening. Many doctors and scientists believe NTM lung infection is not only due to exposure to the bacteria in the environment but also due of host vulnerability – some people are more predisposed to infection. This may be from preexisting conditions or from drugs used to treat other conditions that impact immunity. Please, check with your doctor.