U.S. Public Pools Teeming with Bacteria, other Pathogens

'Boy jumping into swimming pool'

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that not all public pools are safe for swimming.

CDC researchers found that not all public pools are safe to dive in. According to a recent report, 80 percent of public pools and hot tubes had at least 1 health or safety violation in 2013. Furthermore, one in eight pools had to be closed after failing to meet basic safety requirements.

CDC researchers found that 15 percent public aquatic venues had great lapses in pH levels, 13 percent lacked safety equipment, and 12 percent had lower disinfectant concentrations than necessary.

The review paper which included inspection reports from professionals in five states that account for 40 percent of all public pool facilities in the U.S. showed that water gets contaminated especially by small kids with diarrhea or poor ‘toileting skills.’ These children are also the group that is more likely to swallow the contaminated water, which can later result in diarrheal outbreaks.

Experts explained that in this matter pH is critical because pool disinfectants are more effective in wiping out pathogens when water acidity is at optimal levels.

Parents should also keep their kids out of the water if they know that their little ones are ill with diarrhea. They should be also checking diapers once an hour and take kids to the bathroom.

Adults should also stay away from water if they recently had a bout of diarrhea.  And they should shower if they do plan to swim.

CDC researchers noted that 25 percent of pool-related diarrhea outbreaks are caused by either E. Colli or Shigella, which were supposed to have been neutralized by pool disinfectants.

About 75 percent of pool-related diarrhea outbreaks are triggered by a parasite dubbed cryptosporidiosis, which is adapted to chlorine so it requires secondary disinfectant systems.

But a diarrhea bout is not the only thing you can get from a public pool. You could also end up with irritated eyes or respiratory tract problems from the vapors released when disinfectants mix with human urine or sweat. The largest incident affected 665 people in 2007.

Experts recommend people not to take for granted that they’re safe in a public aquatic facility. They should be wary and take safety precautions. Safety and health violations can often result in outbreaks and increases in infectious diseases statewide.

Before swimming in a public pool, you should use test strips or simply ask a manager about maintenance. Additionally, if you cannot see the bottom at the deep end of the pool, it means that the water hasn’t been properly treated.

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