Its 50 years since I joined my local Y and became a competitive swimmer. Proud to say that I’m still doing it, and my favorite thing about summer is being able to work out in my backyard pool. Growing up I never had that, so every time I’m in my pool I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to do that now. I’m reading a bit about pool hygiene safety so I thought I could make a quick comment for you all.
According to the Center for Disease Control, there has been an increase in the incidence of recreational water infections (RWI) in recent years. There are a number of different bugs causing this problem: parasites like cryptosporidium(crypto) or giardia, bacteria like E.coli and shigella, and viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A. These infections enter our bodies mainly when swallowed but also through eyes or nostrils as well.
There are 2 main areas of focus to control this problem: pool issues and body issues. Keep your pool chemicals stable. Chlorine levels of 1-3 parts per million are effective, but it takes variable amounts of time to kill these organisms: 1 minute for E. coli, 45 minutes for Hepatitis A, but 10 days for crypto. And also be aware that these disinfectant times are increased by “chlorine stabilizers” like cyanuric acid. But pH is also essential–7.2-7.6 is the ideal range for the chlorine to effectively disinfect recreational water. It is very imprortant to regularly check and adjust these chemicals as their concentration is partially dependent on pool and air temperature, are consumed by things like sunlight, and diluted by rainwater.
With respect to body issues, the most important things are the health and hygiene of those entering the pool. Any non-toilet trained child should wear tight fitting plastic pants over diapers and their pool time should be kept brief to limit the risk of contamination from a soiled diaper as “its only a matter of time.” Younger, more recently trained children–prone to “accidents”–should be encouraged to use the potty before playing in the pool and you should be sure to take regular bathroom breaks for kids in this age group (I’d say up to age 10). Everyone entering the pool should absolutely take a shower using soap prior to and after using the pool. Only people who are in good health should use the pool: in particular no one with open wounds and especially no one with any diarrheal illness. Never purposely consume pool water and try and make sure that children drink plenty of fluids after playing in the pool as they so frequently do so without even thinking about it as they frolic. This can help dilute out anything inadvertantly ingested and limit the risk of infection.
As I so frequently end these discussions, be careful but don’t get crazy: its the summer, so have fun!!
Please post questions or comments, and thanks for following.