WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2007 –– A swim in the pool can be a fun and healthy summertime activity. But without the proper precautions, pools can spread germs that make swimmers sick, and the number of outbreaks is on the rise. That is why a national partnership including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Consumers League (NCL), Water Quality and Health Council (WQ&HC), American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) has again teamed up to inform the public about preventing recreational water illnesses (RWIs). The partners want swimmers and parents to know that what they see, feel, smell and hear can help them recognize the difference between a healthy pool and a risky one.Chlorination is part of the first line of defense against the germs in swimming pools. In fact, according to a recent survey by WQ&HC, 82 percent of respondents recognized that chlorine is essential to help protect the water quality and swimmers’ health. “A well-maintained, properly chlorinated swimming pool or spa is key to preventing illnesses from waterborne pathogens including viruses like norovirus, and bacteria like E. coli, and Shigella,” said WQ&HC member and noted Michigan State University microbiologist Dr. Joan Rose. “These pathogens can cause swimmers to experience diarrhea, respiratory illness, ear or nose and skin infections.”
Swimmers and parents should be aware of signals that a pool may not be properly maintained. The partnership Web site, www.healthypools.org, offers “Sense”-able swimming tips to help you recognize the difference between a healthy pool and a risky one:
Sight: Look for water that’s clean, clear and blue.
Touch: Check for tiles that feel smooth and clean.
Smell: Make sure there are no strong odors.
Sound: Listen for pool cleaning equipment.
Pool users can also use test kits and strips, available from pool supply stores, to help make sure their community pool has adequate chlorine and proper pH before swimming. Since a few germs, like Cryptosporidium, can survive for long periods in even the best maintained pools, it is also vital for swimmers to follow CDC’s Healthy Swimming behaviors, including: don’t swim when ill with diarrhea; don’t swallow pool water; take frequent bathroom breaks; and practice good hygiene.
“Whether you’re a pool maintenance professional or a summer swimmer, you need to understand healthy swimming behavior to protect yourself and your family and friends from waterborne diseases,” says National Consumers League President and WQ&HC Vice-Chair Linda Golodner. “By using available tools, such as pool and spa testing strips and your own senses, there is no excuse for individuals not to have a healthy and fun swimming season this year.”
For more information on how to promote cleaner, healthier pools and spas, please log on to www.healthypools.org.