Public Pools Are Microbial Baths
I have a friend, an avid swimmer, with a pool in her backyard that is monitored by her husband. With the careful balancing act of tweaking chlorine and ph levels he performs, their pool is a safe pleasure. Public pools, on the other hand, are a different story. There you encounter the problem of public pool cleanliness. How do you know that they are keeping the pool water as clean as it MUST be kept so bacteria, etc., do not transport themselves to your body and make you sick?
Unfortunately, you don't really know. However, the fewer number of individuals using the pool the better. In the summer when the pool populations rise exponentially with the addition of many clubs at private facilities,pool water may be teaming with microbes. Even at these "private" pools the water quality isn't pristine. You can imagine what it is like in community pools.
More bad news, and be prepared to be grossed out. A recent survey conducted by the Water Quality & Health Council, a scientific research group sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, discovered on average, that one in four people swimming with you is urinating. One question on the April survey given to 1,000 adults asked whether they urinated in pools. One in five admitted that they did. I suspect the question is like asking a woman about her weight: She will lie about the number. Most probably, there were liars who didn't tell the truth about urinating. We won't discuss which gender or age groups are more likely to do this, though the demographics might be interesting.
If you thought that chlorine counteracted any accidents and took care of the pee, well as it turns out, chlorine isn't such a wonderful safeguard. Taking care of bacteria? Chlorine can with this caveat: Pool operators must be assiduous about maintaining proper chlorine and pH levels. If they check the water many times a day, depending upon the population entering the pool, and increase the levels of chlorine and tweak ph, then most waterborne germs will be killed on contact. However, chlorine has its own potential risks for frequent swimmers, like asthma and other breathing problems for children, as well as an increased risk for certain cancers amongst adults. .
Last year, when the WQHC did tests on public pools, they found that 54 percent failed to assure the right amount of chlorine level and nearly half got low marks for pH balance. Poor and infrequent testing are to blame along with those relieving themselves in the pool. One would think these pee heads wouldn't want to swim in their own urine. Not the case. That is the problem. According to public health expert and WQHC chairman, Dr. Chris Wiant,Continued on the next page