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The Problem With Public Pools

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 21, 2010 11:47 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Gastroenteritis, Norovirus, Shingella, Swimming Pools, CDC

CDC Issues Warning About Public Pools


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons Web site/ child in swimming pool

Watch out for the water this summer.

In a weekly report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one out of every 8 public pools the agency inspected in 13 states in 2008 had to be closed for serious code violations.

About 314 million visit pools in the summer months.

The most frequent illnesses from water problems included improper disinfect and pH levels which can cause gastroenteritis, norovirus and Shingella.

Bacterial contamination came from dirty diapers, poor hygiene, and people swimming who are ill or fail to rinse their bodies before getting into the pool.

Child care facility pools had the highest percentage of closures at 17.2 percent, followed by hotel and motel at 15.3% and apartment/condo pools at 12.4%.

The CDC report concludes that baby pools and interactive fountains had the highest percentage of disinfectant violations.

Swimming in pools with improper disinfectant and pH levels can lead to serious gastrointestinal illnesses.

CDC encourages swimmers to take action by following the Triple A′s of Healthy Swimming: Awareness, Action, and Advocacy:

      • Don′t swim when you have diarrhea.
      • Don′t swallow pool water.
      • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
      • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
      • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.
      • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.
      • Check pool water quality yourself using test strips purchased at a local store.
      • Ask the pool operator about chlorine and pH levels and the latest pool inspection score. The pH is probably the most important factor in swimming pool water and should be tested and adjusted on a weekly basis. Measuring the pH level is a way to assess the relative acidity or alkalinity of the pool water. pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 where 1 is extremely acidic and 14 is extremely alkaline. A pH reading of 7.0 is neutral - below 7.0 is acidic - above 7.0 is alkaline.
      • Encourage pool operators to take steps shown to kill the germs that cause (RWIs)
      • Educate other swimmers about RWIs to promote healthy swimming.#

1 Comment

Posted by Jeff Sloan
Friday, May 21, 2010 3:02 PM EST

Free test strips are available from LINK Consumers can use these to test for adequate chlorine and proper pH in the pools they visit. Everyone has a role in keeping pools healthy.

Jeffrey Sloan
American Chemistry Council

Comments for this article are closed.

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