Most of us have a natural love of water. We love swimming- it is perhaps one of the most relaxing physical activities on offer. Swimming is a good all-round activity and there’s nothing better than hitting the pool especially during summer.
People have been swimming and diving every summer in public pools all over the country. Public swimming pools are everywhere- ready to cater leisure needs. Many people think of them as perfect place for recreation, but do you know that there are hidden dangers lurking beneath their surface? Also, a new study suggests that busy swimming pools are more dangerous than you might think.
Busy swimming pools are laced with bacteria that creates a potential health hazard. Sweat, urine, mucus, saliva, hair, dead skin, perfume, sun cream, cosmetics and fecal matter are among the pollutants introduced by bathers into public pools.
7 RISKS POSED BY DIRTY BUSY POOLS:
In many cases, the risk of illness or infection has been linked to fecal contamination of the water. The fecal contamination may be due to feces released by bathers. Fecal matter is introduced into the water when a person has an accidental fecal release – AFR (through the release of formed stool or diarrhea into the water) or residual fecal material on swimmers’ bodies is washed into the pool. Within the first 15 minutes of entering, the average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to pool water (CDC, 2001).
2. Bacteria – E. Coli
According to a new study, genetic fragments from the fecal germ E. coli are found in many public pools. E. coli is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and other illnesses. It is the bacteria most commonly associated with fecal matter.
*Rinse with soap and water before entering the pool to cut the risk of contamination.
3. Recreational water illnesses
Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, etc.The most common RWI is diarrhea which is caused by germs like Crypto and E. coli.
Other RWI infections include:
4. Cryptosporidium (“Crypto”)
Cryptosporidium is a germ that causes diarrhea. This germ is found in the fecal matter of a person who has been infected by Crypto. It has a tough outer shell that allows it to survive for a long time in the environment. It can survive for days even in properly chlorinated pools.
Crypto is spread by swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter containing Crypto. You share the water—and the germs in it—with every person who enters the pool. If one person infected with Crypto has diarrhea in the water, the water can be contaminated with tens or hundreds of millions of germs. Swallowing even a small amount of pool water
that has been contaminated with the Crypto germ can make you sick.
Giardia is a germ that causes diarrhea. This germ is found in the fecal matter of a person who has been infected by Giardia. It has a tough outer shell that allows it to survive for up to 45 minutes even in properly chlorinated pools.
Giardia is spread by swallowing water that has been contaminated with fecal matter containing Giardia. You share the water—and the germs in it— with every person who enters the pool. If one person infected with Giardia has diarrhea in the water, the water can be contaminated with millions of germs. Swallowing even a small amount of pool water that has been contaminated with the Giardia germ can make you sick.
6. Pee in the Pool
Swimming in a urine-contaminated pool is certainly not the most pleasant thought. Urine is virtually sterile when it leaves your body, so it doesn’t pose the risk of causing illness the way fecal matter in a pool does. Cyanogen chloride forms when chlorine from the pool reacts with nitrogen in urine. It acts like tear gas, roughing up the eyes, nose, and lungs.
7. Chlorine By-product
Think chlorine kills harmful bacteria floating in your pool? Think again. Chlorine and other disinfectants don’t kill germs instantly. A strong odor of chlorine at a public pool is not a good thing. A well-chlorinated pool must only have a little odor. That is why there is a need to keep chlorine at recommended levels to maintain a healthy pool.
The proper free chlorine level in pools: free chlorine level (1-3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2-7.8) maximize germ-killing power.
However, a recent study discovered that sweat, sun-tan lotion and urine can react with chlorine and other chemicals used to clean swimming pool water and create potentially harmful by-products.
There are 30 different bugs estimated in busy pools. Here are some:
5 HEALTH RISKS OF SWIMMING IN BUSY POOLS:
Chlorine in dirty swimming pools has been shown to increase the risk of developing asthma.
2. Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia, or lung infection. Bacteria called Legionella cause this infection. This kind of bacteria usually thrive in warm water like the swimming pool due to the inhaling of the bacteria in water vapor.
Signs and symptoms:
• shortness of breath
• high fever
• muscle aches
3. Athlete’s Foot
One can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person or by touching surfaces contaminated with the fungus. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments like swimming pools. Swimmers who have acquired this disease can easily infect others with the pieces of fungi that fall from their feet if they do not wear sandals or pat their skin after they swim.
4. Swimmer’s Ear
According to Mayo Clinic, when water stays in the ear canal for long periods of time, it allows for bacteria to grow and infect the skin.
Swimmer’s ear (also called acute otitis externa) is a painful condition resulting from inflammation, irritation, or infection. The germs that are commonly found in chlorine pools can bring on this illness.
5. Abnormal cell growth
Swimming in chlorinated pools may induce genotoxicity as well as respiratory effects. Also, swimming for 40 minutes can result in cancer-causing DNA mutations.
What You Can Do:
*Take a shower before entering the water.
*Don’t pee in the pool.
*Stay out if you have diarrhea.
Sources: webcache.googleusercontent.com, www.medicaldaily.com