Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2013 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, May 18, 2013
Chlorine is supposed to take care of most of the
microbes floating around in pools, but human waste,
it seems, is stubbornly resistant to being sanitised.
That s the conclusion of a group of researchers
from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who
collected water samples from 161 filters in public and
private swimming pools, as well as water parks in
Atlanta last summer.
What they found trapped in those filters was
enough to make swimmers think twice before logging
their laps. More than half of the samples were con-
taminated with E coli, which the investigators say
comes from one primary source---swimmers pooping
in the pool.
The study, published in the latest Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report, specifically looked at pools
in Atlanta, but the researchers say such contamination
is likely a widespread problem in US pools, thanks
to swimmers not washing themselves off before taking
Among municipal pools, the genetic testing for
pathogens detected E coli in 70 per cent of the filters,
while 66 per cent of the water parks contained the
bacteria and 49 per cent of pools in private clubs
showed evidence of the contamination.
"These findings indicate the need for swimmers
to help prevent introduction of pathogens, eg, taking
a pre-swim shower and not swimming when ill with
diarrhea, (for) aquatics staff to maintain disinfectant
level and pH according to public health standards to
inactivate pathogens, and state and local environmental
health specialists to enforce such standards," the
authors write in their report.
When a pool is properly chlorinated, however, bac-
teria like E coli should be killed off, since proper pH
levels typically take care of the issue. According to
the CDC, it takes less than a minute for E coli to be
inactivated if chlorine levels are adequate, about 16
minutes to control Hepatitis A virus, about 45 minutes
to kill off the Giardia parasite and over ten days for
a Crypto parasite.
But just one diarrhea accident can cause an infection
for anyone who gets a mouth full of pool water. For-
tunately, the testing did not reveal strains of E coli
0157, a particularly virulent form of the bacteria that
was responsible for several outbreaks, and deaths,
from serious foodborne illnesses.
According to NPR, because the researchers only
analysed the samples for genetic signatures of different
pathogens, they couldn t determine whether the bugs
were alive, and potentially reproducing in the water,
but there were no pool-related diseases reported in
Atlanta during the summer the samples were gath-
Thomas Lachocki, the CEO of the National Swim-
ming Pool Foundation, says that in order to be properly
chlorinated, pools should contain 1-4 parts per million
of chlorine and pH levels should be within 7.2--7.8.
But if you don t have the time to do your own
testing, look for clear water.
"You should always be able to see the bottom of
the pool clearly. Usually if the water is cloudy, some-
thing with the filter or chemicals isn t right," said
Lachocki. "Clear water doesn t mean everything is
alright, but cloudy water is an absolute positive sign
that something is not right." (Time.com)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Pool water contains high
amount of human waste
half of the
with E coli,
Here are some additional recommendations
from the CDC for ensuring a bug-free dip:
• Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
• Shower with soap before you start
• Take a shower to rinse off before you get
back into the water.
• Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
• Wash your hands after using the toilet or
• Try not to swallow the pool water.
If you have young children:
• Take children on bathroom breaks every half-
hour to hour or check diapers frequently.
• Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-
changing area and not at poolside where
pathogens can rinse into the water
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