Healthy Pools Protect Swimmers from Germs

Swimming is a fun and healthy activity for people of all ages. However, improperly chlorinated water puts swimmers at risk for recreational water illnesses like diarrhea and ear and skin infections. Test strips are an easy way to check the water and maintain a healthy pool. When testing pool water, swimmers should be sure that the free chlorine level is between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million (ppm) and the pH registers between 7.2 and 7.8. Please visit our website to order your free test strips.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a disturbing statistic: About 1 out of 8 public pool inspections conducted in 13 states in 2008 resulted in pools being closed immediately due to serious code violations. The venues that had the most disinfection violations were kiddie pools and water play areas. Unhealthy pools are more common than you may think. This new data underscores the importance of protecting yourself and your family at the pool this summer.

The CDC is encouraging all swimmers to be activists – check your pool water and immediately report any problems to pool staff. Test strips are a quick and easy way to measure if there is adequate chlorine to kill germs and if pH is in the proper range.

Last year’s survey by the Water Quality and Health Council found that one in five Americans pee in the pool. Urine, as well as sweat and even sunscreen, contains nitrogen that eats up some of a pool’s free chlorine, making it less effective in fighting off waterborne germs. To ensure on-the-spot protection, it is important to regularly adjust a pool’s chlorine levels.
Are you swimming in an unhealthy pool? The Water Quality and Health Council recommend you use your senses to recognize the signs:

o CANNOT SEE the floor drain in the deep end of the pool;
o SMELL a strong chemical odor; or
o FEEL sliminess on tile walls.

Free test kits are available on the Water Quality and Health Council website. For more information on preventing recreational water illnesses, please visit the CDC’s website.

(Chris Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D., is president and CEO of the Caring for Colorado Foundation. He is also chair of the Water Quality & Health Council.)