Heading to the pool to cool down? You might want to pause and think about the water you're jumping into. A recent study by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 80% of public pools violate public safety codes.
The 2013 study focused on 48,632 public aquatic venues in the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs: Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas. 1 out of every 8 facilities had such serious violations that the facility was forced to close immediately.
Public pools can host thousands of people over a single weekend, and without proper health and safety maintenance, these pools quickly become a petri dish for unhealthy organisms.
In fact, 30 public pools in Nashville were denied permits this week after violating health and safety inspections.
Recreational water illnesses (RWIs), an effect of poor pool health and safety, are caused by chemicals and germs in the water. These illnesses can be contracted through most types of contact with the water, including swallowing water, breathing in mist, or having water contact with eyes or wounds.
But chlorine kills this bacteria, right? Not immediately. Some RWI bacteria can survive several days in a properly chlorinated pool. That's why it is so important to follow basic hygiene guides for public pools, like showering before entering.
The majority of people, however, do not follow these guidelines. Studies show that about 70% of Americans do not shower before they enter public pools. 1 in 5 Americans even admits to peeing in public pools. This might be because 63% of people were not aware of the illnesses that can result from pool bacteria.
Bacteria in pools can cause conditions like skin infections, diarrhea, ear infections, respiratory infections, eye infections, nervous system conditions, and wound infections.
Public kid pools are some of the worst offenders, usually for trying to over-regulate bacteria. The shallow water requires close monitoring to regulate chemical levels. Over-expose of chlorine can be more dangerous than its absence; the chemical can cause irritation or burns to the skin, throat, eyes, and lungs. Straight chlorine can even kill.
But lurking bacteria isn't the only worry at these pools; health departments across the country conduct regular inspections of public pools to keep visitors safe from a variety of potential dangers. One of the Nashville pools denied a permit was a hotel whirlpool that did not have the required 15-minute timer for the water jets. The timers are tools to force people out of the hot tub so a swimmer isn't struck with heart failure in the warm water.
Before you jump into a public pool, conduct your own inspection of the facility. Is the water clear? Cloudy or discolored water is a sign of uncleanliness or over-chlorination. Look at the swim habits of people entering the pool: are people rinsing off, or allowing young children to wear diapers in the pool (not a healthy practice)? Finally, ask to see the results of the most recent health and safety inspection.
Caution on the front end can prevent pool illnesses and injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from an unsafe or unhealthy pool, call the Law Offices of Luvell L. Glanton at 615-244-4511 to schedule a free consultation.