Ah, the warm days of summer bring with them the swimming pool season. Each summer, millions of Americans take to the pool, either community pools or private pools. A great way to cool off, exercise, and spend time with family and friends, there are also some hidden dangers lurking in pools. Here’s what to be aware of and how not to let them spoil the fun.
Swimming pool parasites
Cryptosporidium or crypto for short often lurks in public swimming pools and water pars. This parasite is spread through fecal matter, and it doesn’t take much. Even a tiny amount of poo can contain millions of germs. The most important thing to know is that regular levels of chlorine will not kill this parasite that can survive in a well-maintained pool for up to ten days. In addition, it is very easy to get sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swallowing just a little mouthful of infected water can cause weeks of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Both adults and children should be reminded not to swallow the water.
If any fecal matter is found in a pool, the only solution is to shut it down and get everyone out of the water. To kill crypto, a professional super-chlorinate of the water must be done, and then the water must be brought back to normal levels.This process can take up to eight hours.
If you do happen to be unfortunate enough to get sick, visit your doctor so you can determine if crypto is to blame. After diarrhea stops, wait at least two weeks before swimming again.
Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals
Chemicals used in chlorinated pools can cause asthma, respiratory distress, and even cancer. The good news is that there are alternatives to chlorine such as salt water, hydrogen peroxide, copper and silver ions, and even UV light. If you are swimming in a public pool, however, there is little you can do to control the use of chemicals. Studies have identified over 100 chemical byproducts in pools that use chlorine as a disinfectant.
Yes, chlorine is really good at killing microbes in pools, but it is when the chlorine reacts with urine, sweat, skin cells, and other organic materials that things get messy. Studies show that some of these chemicals may be even be linked to bladder cancer. Researchers looked at cancer markers after participants had been swimming for 40 minutes.
What they found was a large increase in markers of DNA damage that can lead to cancer. They found that common byproducts were seven times higher in people after they swam. The skin, our largest organ, readily absorbs the byproducts of chlorine, which can cause issues in young babies and persons with compromised immune systems.
Study leaders say that it is too early to tell people to stop swimming altogether but that they should swim with caution. Furthermore, if you have a pool at your home, consider switching to a non-chlorinated method of killing bacteria. You can do your part by showering before you enter the pool to reduce the organic material on your body that reacts with the chlorine.
Although many community pools are not deep enough to have a diving board, you still see them in larger pools, and some homeowners also install them. This is by far the most dangerous addition to any swimming pool. There is a high risk of spinal and head trauma in pools that are less than nine feet deep with a diving board. Removing diving boards and having a no diving policy can decrease the risk of a swimming pool injury by up to 50%. Even if you find yourself swimming in a pool with a diving board, resist the urge to take a leap!
Stay aware and stay safe this summer!
-The Alternative Daily