Does Pool Water Clean You?
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Nothing beats the refreshing feeling on the skin when you take a cold swim on a hot summer day. But before you dive into the pool, beware that the water might not be clean as it looks. Chlorine kills germs, but it does not immediately kill some viruses and bacteria, making you prone to diseases.
It would help if you took a shower after visiting a public pool to get rid of the dirt and bacteria that might be clinging to your body.
So, does pool water clean you? Let’s find out
Why is Swimming Pool Water not Clean?
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 80% of public pools are not hygienic. This research shows that clear water in pools does not mean that the water is free from contamination with filth and bacteria.
Here are reasons why the pools are not hygienic
1. Millions of People Use the Pools
More than 89 million people in the US use public pools in the summer. Unfortunately, a majority of these people don’t shower before diving in the pool.
The more people using the pools, body fluids, oils from their skin, and dirt eventually end up in the chlorinated pools. Thus, exposing everyone else to the risks of contaminated pools.
2. The Water has Body Waste Residues
Apart from urine and sweat, the swimming pools also contain traces of fecal matter, from accidental poop from little kids, leaking diapers, and residues on the bodies.
You can imagine the contamination rate due to the high number of children visiting the public pools during the hot season.
Poop is known to carry waterborne diseases like E.coli, Hepatitis, and Shigella.
3. The Water in Swimming Pools is not changed Regularly
The reality you need to know is that the pools do not change the water after every swimming cycle. Most of the public pools have no capacity for continuously disinfecting and changing the water.
The water becomes more contaminated as more people continue to jump in and out of the pool.
4. Chlorine Gets Depleted
Although chlorine is a popular agent that disinfects swimming pools around the world. Chlorine is like a double-edged sword, it may kill green algae and some germs immediately, but it may not be as powerful enough as you may think.
Here is why:
Number of People Using the Pools
Chlorine kills germs, and too much of it will affect your skin and hair. However, a lot of people use public pools in a day.
As you know, it is a challenge to change the water after every swim. Therefore the level of chlorine concentration continues to drops in each swimming cycle.
Impurities in the Pool
Sweat, sunscreen, and hair products deplete the chlorine in swimming pools. It is challenging to maintain a germ-free pool because these impurities tend to absorb chlorine from the water.
You will also want to avoid using too much chlorine because it is harmful to your skin.
5. Presence of Harmful Chemicals in the Pool
The distinct smell that you think is too much chlorine is actually chloramine. Chloramine is a dangerous chemical that is produced when chlorinated water is mixed with body fluids.
Moreover, when the filtration system fails to remove dissolved copper, traces of it will be common in the swimming pool. A high concentration of copper is toxic, and this is evident when it turns your hair green.
6. Bacteria Thrive in Swimming Pools
Bacteria and germs are spread especially by your fellow swimmers, making the swimming pool unsterile.
Even though you are told that chlorine kills germs and bacteria, it loses its ability to protect you when it comes into contact with body fluids and other wastes.
There are some microbes such as crypto-parasites that defy the ability of chlorine to kill it.
How Is Bacteria Spread in The Pool?
1. From Other Pool Users
A swimmer who has had diarrhea for the previous two weeks could still infect others by depositing the pathogens in the pool.
According to CDC, science shows that the body takes 14 days to remove the germs that cause diarrhea. Visiting the pool when sick is very risky, given the number of people that use public pools.
It would be best if you considered the health of other pool users by first taking a shower.
2. Low Chlorine Levels
Perhaps you have been having the wrong assumption that the water is sanitary because chlorine removes sweat and urine from the pool.
However, the chlorine levels usually drop after each swimming cycle, making it easy for germs and parasites to spread easily.
A contaminated pool increases your exposure to infection and can cause recreational water illnesses like e.colli, crypto-parasite, and norovirus.
Low chlorine concentration leads to eye irritation. You are not protected from the chemicals produced when chlorine mixes with bodily fluids.
3. Swallowing Pool Water
You can never be really sure about the cleanliness of a public pool, which is very hard to maintain.
You could also get water disease from swallowing water as the swimming pool is full of body fluids and dirt that contaminates the water.
How To Be Clean After Swimming
Research shows that a majority of swimmers skip showering before and after they dive into the swimming pools.
Because millions of Americans use public pools, showering reduces your risk of being exposed to a dirty pool.
Taking a shower makes a huge difference when using the pool. Showering with soap and water before jumping into the pool removes chlorine, chemicals, and bacteria that could be clinging to your skin.
How Will You Know if The Pool Water is Clean?
Even though the pool is treated and chlorinated, you cannot really tell if it is hygienic for you. Here are signs that will quickly help you to point out if the water is not clean.
1. The water is not clear
Please stay away from pools with algae and cloudy water, as they are clear signs that the water is unsanitary. An unclean pool is a high risk for bacterial infections.
2. The Water Feels Slimy
When the water is oily or slippery after dipping your hands, it shows that the chlorine concentration is low. Hence it is not effective in killing disease-causing germs.
3. Strong Smell
Natural water usually has no odor like polluted water. However, chloramine, a mixture of chlorine and urine, causes strong smells in pools and risks your health.
4. Check The Pool’s Score Online
You can search the current inspection score for public swimming pools. The score will give you an indication of how sanitary the place is.
5. Use Test Strips
You can get test strips that are common in supply stores to determine the chlorine levels in the swimming pool.
Stay Safe and Clean
Here are few tips that you can follow to keep you safe
- Wash your hair and skin with soap and water before and after swimming
- Stay away from taking a swim when you are suffering from diarrhea
- Do not swallow water when swimming
- Go early if you are using public pools
- If you have little kids, remove them from the pool and wash them after a bowel movement.
- Wear swimming goggles and a swimming cap to protect your hair
You might actually believe that the pool is clean enough, but it is not. Even though the pool is treated with chlorine, you are never sure that it has no exposure to pathogens that might cause bacterial infections and risk your health.
When you visit the pool, follow the rules and keep the pool hygienic. You would want to shower as per the instructions before and after swimming to save your skin from irritation and protect others from what you might be carrying.