The fact that public swimming pools generally have dirty, contaminated water in them comes as no surprise at this point. Unfortunately, for those who do not own a home pool, when summer comes there are no other options to turn to aside from going to the local public pool. Alas, most people ignore the dangers that await them when swimming in the dirty, contaminated water as they want to cool off and have some fun with family and friends. But if these people were to know the truth about public pool water in its entirety, we doubt they would approach it ever again. In the following, we will explore this subject more, going in depth to see what are the hidden dangers lurking in public pools, the contaminants and health threats you could be confronted with and are lesser known by the general population.
Why are public pools so unsafe to swim in?
It should not surprise you at all to hear that public pools are hazardous to swim in considering how many people swim in them on a daily basis. We are talking about hundreds of people each day in some cases, some of them potentially carrying diseases and infections which could be spread to others through contact with the same aquatic environment, children and even adults who have “accidents” – you know the type – that lead in instant water contamination, and some who do not have the best “relationship” with hygiene, leaving behind dirt, bacteria, and more. Also, there is the fact that we all sweat and our skin eliminates oils, meaning that where there is an abundance of people there will inevitably be contamination with these two elements. Furthermore, there is the excess chlorine to take into consideration as well, in some public pools chlorine reaching dangerously high levels, causing a series of health issues for swimmers, including rashes, irritations, and infections.
How the public pool could become a safe swimming environment:
- Obviously, the best way to keep the pool clean is to clean it as often as possible. After all, debris and germs won’t always come from humans swimming in it necessarily as leaves could fall in, animals might contaminate the water, and so on. The old-fashioned and more grueling method to clean it would be to scrub the floor, walls, and waterline with a brush manually, and skim the surface to take out any gunk that has landed in the water. However, a modern pool cleaning technique which is more recommended as it saves time and does not require human labor is the use of a robotic pool cleaner. The automated device can tend to scrub all the surfaces on its own, filtering the water of impurities, and removing all debris encountered in record time, all without requiring human intervention.
- We are not denying the importance of chlorine addition to swimming pool water as this is a chemical which brings important benefits to the table by killing off bacteria and dangerous contaminants of all sorts. However, for the pool to remain a safe swimming environment one thing is certain – chlorine levels must be toned down a bit. Tests should be performed each week to see what amount of chlorine is needed, and the recommended dosage should be respected.
- Another test which should be done once per week is the pH level test. If the pH level goes beneath 7.0 or above 7.6, an intervention is immediately required in the form of the addition of chemicals which bring the water back to a normal pH balance.
- A great way to ensure bacteria and germs are killed off is to super chlorinate the water once every 2 weeks or even less, depending on the traffic. To super chlorinate the pool means to shock the pool by adding a large amount of chlorine in it, not letting anyone swim in the water until the effect of this excessive chlorination passes.
Common health threats and infections – What dangers lurk in the water
As aforementioned, with a large number of people using public pools, it is impossible for these bodies of water to be clean and free of hazards. In the following, we will start listing the common health threats and infections that are most likely to become an issue for you if you continue to swim in the dirty water of public pools.
- Digestive system infections: If the filtering system is not doing its job properly, and there has not been enough chlorine added in the pool water, diarrhea microbes could escape, and you might end up swimming in an environment filled with them.
- Eye infections: If there is too much chlorine in the water, it could irritate your eyes, which leads to the appearance of conjunctivitis.
- Ear infections: The water that remains inside your ears after you swim could cause otitis externa infection, an infection which forms at the exterior of the ear canal, causing pain and irritation.
- Legionnaires’ disease: A bacterial lung diseases obviously caused by a bacteria, Legionnaires’ disease is another danger you may be confronted with. Its symptoms are similar to pneumonia, and it thrives in the moisture which is created in enclosed public pools.
Proper precautions for safe public pool swimming
- Change out of your bathing suit after you finish swimming;
- Shower before entering the pool and after you get out;
- Wear a cap, goggles, and earplugs;
- Avoid swallowing the water;
- Avoid entering it if it is too crowded;
- If the water seems dirty, don’t enter;
- If the pool does not have a proper chlorination system, do not enter.