From Dr. Mercola:
If you’re planning to visit a public pool this summer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual report may make you think twice.1 More than 48,600 public pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds were tested, and close to 80 percent had at least one safety or hygiene violation.
One in 8 of the pools was so dirty that it had to be closed immediately after inspection. Pools meant for young children and infants were especially risky, with 1 in 5 being closed right after inspection. Michael Beach, Ph.D., the CDC’s associate director for Healthy Water, said:2
“This is particularly troubling because children who are still learning their toiletry skills are more likely to contaminate the water, and more likely to swallow the water, both of which can lead to diarrheal illness.”
Most Common Violations at U.S. Public Pools
About one-third of local health departments do not monitor or inspect public pool facilities, so virtually anything could be lurking in the water. Most often, violations were related to:
Improper pH (15 percent) Safety equipment (13 percent) — especially in order to prevent drowning Disinfectant concentration (12 percent) — especially too little disinfectant
A past CDC study also revealed that feces frequently contaminate pool water. Fifty-eight percent of the pool filters the CDC tested in 2013 were found to contain E. coli bacteria. According to the CDC:3
“Finding a high percentage of E. coli-positive filters indicates swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a fecal incident in the water or when feces rinse off of their bodies because they do not shower thoroughly before getting into the water.”
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, another type of bacteria that may cause ear infections and rashes, was found in 59 percent of pool filters tested. Norovirus, giardia and shigella are other illness-causing microbes that may be found in public pools. There’s also cryptosporidium, or crypto, a parasite that can cause diarrhea.
Ninety crypto outbreaks were reported from 2011 to 2012, and most occurred in treated water, such as pools, spas and hot tubs (crypto is resistant to many common disinfectants).4
In order to combat the increasing rates of infection with cryptosporidium, which is now the leading cause of swimming pool-related outbreaks of diarrheal illness, the CDC recommends supplementing disinfection at public pools and hot tubs with ultraviolet light or ozone.
If You Can’t See the Drain, Don’t Jump In
Experts recommend swimmers use common sense before jumping in to public pools, including gauging the cloudiness of the water.
If it’s so cloudy you can’t see the drain at the bottom, don’t jump in the pool (if the water is this bad, the pool shouldn’t even be open, according to CDC’s Beach, so notify the management as well).
Other common sense measures include not swimming if you have diarrhea, taking frequent bathroom breaks (especially for children) and checking diapers every 30 to 60 minutes.
You can also pick up a container of water test strips at your local