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Teaching Kids Healthy Habits Teaching Kids Healthy Habits

This is why we don't swim in public pools. EW!

Posted by on Jun. 1, 2012 at 9:22 PM
  • 10 Replies
1 mom liked this

Swimming Pools Are Public Toilet Bowls for Many: Survey


If you're taking a refreshing dip in a pool with four other people, odds are one of you is urinating. This is not gross-out myth, but cold, depressing fact from a recent survey conducted by the Water Quality & Health Council, a scientific research group sponsored by the American Chemistry Council.

The survey, conducted in April, asked nearly 1,000 adults whether they urinate in pools. One in five bravely admitted their mistakes. And those are the ones who admitted it.

Building's amazing balcony pools

We may act like potty-trained adults on land, but something about a body of water, even a small one, opens our natural floodgates and, according to doctors, puts us all at risk.

"No matter how easy it is to pee anonymously in the pool, swimmers should avoid doing so," says public health expert and WQHC chairman, Dr. Chris Wiant.

Video: Safety tips for summer swimming

It is easy isn't it? Maybe that's because many of us were taught as kids that chlorine counteracted any accidents. Technically, that's mostly true. If pool operators maintain proper chlorine and pH levels, most waterborne germs are killed on contact.

But 54 percent of public pools tested by the WQHC last year failed to provide the proper chlorine levels and 47 got low marks for pH balance. You can blame poor pool maintenance, but frequent urinators don't help.

"Anything foreign that gets in the pool consumes disinfectant and makes the pool less capable of catching the next bug," Dr. Wiant tells Yahoo! Shine. So while chlorine is working overtime to clean up someone's mess, it's weakened by the time more serious bacteria dives in.

That comes from the germs we carry on our body even before we get into to the water. While only one in five of us cop to peeing in the pool, seven in 10 say they don't shower before they swim. As much as a cold pre-swim shower ruins that first dip feeling, Wiant makes a good case for why it's crucial.

(You may want to stop eating lunch right now, before reading on.)

The additional bacteria we carry on skin, in particular sweat and traces of fecal matter (yes even on adults),gets mixed in the pool. "If disinfectant isn't right, bacteria is allowed to grow in pools, so someone accidentally consumes a mouthful of water like we all do when we're swimming and suddenly they're subject to serious bacteria like E.coli or salmonella."

The high risk offenders, according to the Center for Disease Control, are those water recreational parks, a dangerous combination of packs of young swimmers and lots of accidental gulps. One targeted study by Georgia's Division of Public Health found that e.Coli infected at least 26 people at one water park in the summer of 1998, ultimately resulting in one fatality. Another study found the parasite Cryptosporidium survives even well-chlorinated water parks, posing a potentially fatal threat to those with lowered immune systems.

But small private pools and large public ones are also potential health hazards, depending on how they're maintained. The CDC notes a rapid rise in gastro-intestinal illnesses borne from dirty swimming pools across the country in the past two decades.

Short of getting pool maintenance certification or sweating out an unbearable summer, what can you do?

The first step is to be a good pool Samaritan. Take it to the restroom, folks, and emphasize lots of bathroom breaks for your kids. Another important to-do: always shower before getting in the pool. If you've done your part, you still can't trust your blissfully clueless fellow swimmers.

6 signs you shouldn't swim there

To find out of your pool is safe, look for some tell-tale signs of bacteria.

"Check if you see the bottom," says Dr. Wiant. "If a pool is clear it's likely very clean and balanced, but if it's it cloudy or the sides are slimy, those are signs that bacteria is prevalent and the pool isn't filtering out germs the way it should."

Hyper-vigilant swimmers can also purchase pool test strips at any drug store and do their own scientific assessment. "They're easy to use," he adds, "just crack one open and dip it in the pool and you'll be able to tell right away if the pool is clean."

Another signal it's time to get out of the pool: burning, stinging eyes. Although it's not seriously harmful, when "urine combines with chlorine it becomes an irritant," Wiant says. So if you find yourself squinting in pain after a dive, ask yourself why that person doing the backstroke in the next lane looks so relaxed. It's not that nice of a day.

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by on Jun. 1, 2012 at 9:22 PM
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Replies (1-10):
bethany169
by Bethany on Jun. 1, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Eh, we swim in the lakes when we take our boat out too, and there's a whole lot of animals peeing in there too LOL Our whole family loves swimming too much to stop, but we are good about showering before we go in, and I'm working hard to teach the kids not to pee in the pool--the reminder about frequent bathroom breaks is a good one!!
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VisionSeeker
by on Jun. 2, 2012 at 6:52 AM

 Ewwwww

PoehlerBear1983
by Meghan on Jun. 2, 2012 at 7:51 AM
Gross
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lillucky8
by on Jun. 2, 2012 at 7:52 AM
Yuck
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nngmommy83
by on Jun. 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Same here! We love swimming : )


Quoting bethany169:

Eh, we swim in the lakes when we take our boat out too, and there's a whole lot of animals peeing in there too LOL Our whole family loves swimming too much to stop, but we are good about showering before we go in, and I'm working hard to teach the kids not to pee in the pool--the reminder about frequent bathroom breaks is a good one!!

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sarah824
by on Jun. 2, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Ewww! 

Audreesmommy757
by Diana lynn on Jun. 2, 2012 at 6:16 PM

ewwww

countrymomma81
by on Jun. 2, 2012 at 10:32 PM

I read that article. It sounds gross but at least there are chemicals to help. I would think that going to a crowded beach wouldn't be much better. I know the water is constantly moving, but what about all the animals that use the water as their toilet? Not to mention all the other stuff we don't know about in the water. I'd rather swim in a pool than a beach. 

But we have a pool so it's not that big a deal to us. 

I remember when I was younger I went spend the night at a friends house. Her dad took us to this campground to visit some friends of his and there was a river running behind the campground. They had a tire swing that we could jump in the river off of. We did that almost all day. The next day I woke up and one whole side of my face was swollen. I almost couldn't open my eye. My mom came get me and brought me to the ENT almost immediately. Apparently there was a bacteria in the water that had gotten into my ear and caused a whole mess of problems in there. I had to have my ear drained in the office plus he inserted some sort of tiny cylinder in there to keep the nasty stuff draining. It hurt so bad and for a whole month I couldn't wet my ear or do anything that might make it fall out. It was summer and I was miserable! Not to mention the stuff coming out of my ear smelled so bad. 

I've never had anything like that happen in a public pool. 

abra
by on Jun. 3, 2012 at 1:56 AM

eh, pools are gross, but there are grosser things in this world...like the faucets in public restrooms...or the staph on the bottom of your diaper bag because you set it on the floor. The moral of the story is, germs are everywhere: if you are a germaphobe, you won't survive, if you are careful, you'll still get sick sometimes but you'll usually survive.

soccerchik8287
by on Jun. 3, 2012 at 7:15 PM

Yuck!! That is so gross

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