Putting the 'P' in 'Pool': Americans and Unhealthy Pools

PoolA survey conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council in the U.S. revealed that 47% of Americans engage in unhygienic pool behaviours, with almost 20% admitting that they urinate while swimming and 78% believing their fellow swimmers are doing so. The online survey collected data from 1000 U.S. adults between April 30 and May 3, 2009. Despite media reports warning against a possible "pandemic," only a third of swimmers have the cleanliness of the water in mind when entering a pool. In a report posted at LiveScience.com, staff at the Centers for Disease Control noted that chlorine levels protect against germs, but swimmers' behaviour "makes it harder for chlorine to do its job." Other findings of the survey:

  • 35% of respondents don't shower before swimming
  • 73% say their fellow swimmers pass the showers by
  • 63% were unaware of the possible health risks of breathing, swallowing, or coming into contact with contaminated pool water

The Water Quality and Health Council reported that rates of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are increasing, with symptoms including skin rashes, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and skin infections. LiveScience.com described 6 tips provided by the Centers for Disease control to reduce the risk:

  1. Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
  2. Don’t swallow pool water.
  3. Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  4. Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  5. Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside.
  6. Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming.

You can read the Water Quality and Health Council press release here. The LiveScience.com article can be found here.

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