Updated: 19 April 2018
Leisurely public pools, water parks and spa tub use are not without its sanitation challenges for pool staff. There are many potential health risks public swim facilities pose for swimmers regardless of whether located indoors or outdoors.
Since our skin is the largest organ capable of absorbing environmental impurities; all should be aware that improper water sanitation practices lead to microorganism growth and chemical absorption that may increase health risk.
Most public pool facilities treat water with Chlorine to kill impurities that would otherwise be unhealthy for the swimmer. Chlorine is also easily absorbed through skin as well as lungs through air born emitted chloroform and enters the blood exchange system. Chemical overexposure should cause great concern for those that spend a lot of time in treated water especially in hot tubes. The skins pore surface dilates and acts more sponge-like when submersed in hot water.
Listed below are potential health risks swimmers should be aware – if using public pools.
Public Swim Facilities Transmit Impurities and Increase Health Risk is Cause by the Following Elements.
1) Fecal contaminants discharged, or washed off of swimmers and bathers. 2) There is also non fecal shedding off the body such as, saliva, mucous, vomit and skin. 3) Infected users can contaminate hot/cold environment with potential pathogenic viral, or fungi organisms. 4) Opportunistic bacteria from users of the aquatic facilities can adapt and survive as amoebae in both hot/cold environments. 5) Indoor spas and pools ventilation systems can be contaminated and transmit pollutants and microorganisms. 6) Wet public use floors have high potential of unsanitary microorganism surface growth. (7) Outdoor facilities are challenged with wildlife excretion and other environmental microorganism sanitation issues. (8) Diarrhea-causing a gastrointestinal illness that chlorine doesn’t always kill is Cryptosporidiosis parasites. 9) Too much chlorine absorbed, or chloroform inhaled, or consumed can cause illness and disease.
High Chlorine Use and Exposure Awareness Facts
Chlorine treated water and its air born Chloroform can cause allergic symptoms i.e.,: skin rash, irritation to eyes, sinuses, throat and lungs. Including problematic intestinal symptoms, arthritis and headaches.
Chlorine also weakens the immune system, dries the scalp and hair and creates worse dandruff. Animal studies found too much chlorinated water consumption causes genetic mutations, is a cancer catalyst causing liver cancer in laboratory animals. Canadian researchers found Chloroform risk to be 70-240 times higher in the air within indoor pools than outdoor pools. After an hour of swimming in a chlorinated pool, chloroform concentrations in the swimmers blood ranged from 100-1,093ppb.
Minimize Microorganism & High Chlorine Exposure Risk
Shower before use; avoid swallowing water, report fecal matter release.
- Pool disinfectants burn skin, irritate respiratory; report and avoid use if any of these conditions are experienced.
- If you note see particulate matter, or cloudy water report and avoid pool use.
- Wear eye goggles when in pool and thongs when walking on spa surfaces.
- Inquire on maintenance practices: Chemical treatment, air filtration & ventilation.
- Consult with your physician if swimming benefits outweigh risks per current health condition.
- If you have diarrhea don’t enter spa/pools until 2 weeks after it ends.
- If swim facility is shut down for sanitation cleanupâ€¦ Inquire on how the microorganisms were killed, e.g., extra chlorine, ultraviolet radiation, or ozone treatment.
- If the pool smells heavy of chlorination avoid the facility use.
Note: There are pools that don’t use chlorination: Ultraviolet-ozone and salt.
Each impurity health concern has the potential to cause a variety of respiratory, dermal or central nervous system allergic reaction, infection or illness and possible disease. And in order to reduce risk requires one to become knowledgeable about public pool water treatment and sanitation practices before use.
The practice of proper chemical use includes but not limited to, creating and maintaining a neutral PH to provide a non-toxic/microorganism environment while simultaneously maintaining proper water/air filtration and pump system upkeep.
Indoor pools that use chlorine need to ensure ventilation systems have proper filter change out and remove excess chloroform by replacing it with fresh outdoor air makeup.
Without proactive maintenance practices to reduce environmental health risk to swimmers – adults and children are at increased risk of contracting an infectious illness that could manifest to disease.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2018 Copyright. All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.