How Clean Are Our Swimming Pools – A Call for Transparency

A 2011 Star investigation found pool operators racking up health and safety violations without public knowledge. A proposed bylaw could make them post their inspection results. But something could be done about that. What if swimming pools had to post the results of regular water quality tests and safety inspections in a similar way to the Food hygiene Scheme with which we are all now acquainted?

Why should we be concerned? Please read the following exert from Hung Out to Dry:

Shower before you swim

“Despite the apparent ease with which many moralise over the prospect of river bathing, a deaf ear is often turned to the fact that the water quality at well-run and maintained swimming pools is still far from clean. Many are indeed oblivious to the fact that in Britain, swimming pool water is often over-chlorinated because we British still view the swimming pool as a giant bath. We are not at all comfortable with nakedness and so we do not wash thoroughly before entering the pool, rather we enter with dirty bodies and pollute the water. Chlorine is then added to the mix of pollutants as a body-wash disinfectant.

Swimming Pools have Chlorine added as a body-wash disinfectant

Research by Dr Alfred Barnard[1] into the effects of chlorination on young swimmers (primary school children who swim once every one or two weeks), has led to some disturbing findings. Despite the fact that many authorities hail the indoor pool as the only safe place to swim, it is found that when chlorine reacts with organic matter[2] several by-products are produced including nitrogen trichloride,[3] a powerful irritant linked to the destruction of the cell barriers that protect the deep lungs. The damage may be comparable to the effects of tobacco on the lungs of regular smokers. Could it be that this accounts at least in part for the upsurge in the incidence of childhood asthma?”

Pool Chlorine may be comparable to the effects of tobacco on the lungs of regular smokers

“Even with the water heavily chlorinated, health hazards still present themselves. For example, Cryptosporidium causes a severe form of diarrhea, which infected persons can pass on through the swimming pool. During the year 1999, one hundred and forty cases were reported, which were contracted at swimming baths, not to mention the countless numbers that went unreported.

An article in The Mirror of November 16th 2000 highlighted the sorry state of our pools. When it is realised that such venues continue to treat users to verrucas, sore eyes, skin rashes, tooth erosion and ear infections, the un-chlorinated water of our rivers proves an appealing alternative. Chlorine may also have a temporary effect on male fertility. The skin absorbs water and it is found that prolonged and repeated exposure in chlorinated swimming baths may lower one’s sperm count, a fact worth remembering if fertility becomes an issue!” More…

Chlorine may also have a temporary effect on male fertility

Perhaps a hygiene certificate would be a good idea at all swimming pools.

[1] Leading research at the Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels.

[2] Such as urine and sweat.

[3] Tear Gas.

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