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Can Pool Water Make You Sick?


Real New? Fake News?

Every year we see it, articles popping up, especially around the beginning of summer warning about all of these sicknesses that can be lurking in your pools and hot tubs. They warn people to use caution when swimming due to the fact that there are illnesses hiding in every dark corner of pools just waiting to make someone sick. The real question is, are these articles, in fact, true? Are there diseases lying dormant in your aquatic facility simply waiting to kill, steal, and destroy? In this week's article, we will:

  • explore the truth behind these articles
  • and discuss what you can do to make sure your pool doesn't end up the subject of the next headline. 


Are Pools Filled With Diseases and illnesses?

Unfortunately, there is no easy, cut and dry answer to this question, so let's explore the entirety of the topic in order to keep things as clear and away from biased fear tactic writing. 

Any body of water, be it a pool, hot tub, lake, river, or ocean is capable of creating an environment where harmful pathogens can grow and thrive. These conditions are especially perfect for pathogen growth when the water is stagnant. Swamps, bogs, and certain lakes are especially prone to high pathogen growth due to these stagnant environments. 

Flora and fauna can also play a major role in the perpetuation of illness within the water. Animals can bathe or defecate in the water of many natural and man-made wet areas and this can spread many harmful diseases. Animals can also die in the water and the decay can cause the spread of disease. 

To put it simply, yes, bodies of water can indeed be filled with diseases and illnesses of all kinds. 


What Kind Of Diseases Live In Pool Water?

There are multiple illnesses that can thrive in wet environments, many not very friendly to the average human. They are as follows:

  • Norovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • E. coli
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium

All of these sicknesses and more can all thrive in aquatic areas and pose threats to human swimmers. 

But knowing that these illnesses can thrive in water does not automatically mean that all bodies of water, including swimming pools, are filled with illness and disease. 

So, in short, yes, the articles floating around the internet shouting about the health hazards of pools are partially correct that illnesses can live in pools. But what these articles don't share, is that there are many, MANY, things a trained and educated aquatics operator can do to mitigate, and in some cases eliminate, these illnesses in our water. 


What Can I Do To Keep My Pool Water Clean And Safe?

The big differences, and they are huge differences, between natural bodies of water and swimming facilities is: 

  • Filtration
  • Disinfection
  • Supervision
  • Expertise & Education

These three attributes are the leading factors in preventing illnesses from growing in your pools and hot tubs. Let's explore how each of these helps in keeping your swimmers safe from harmful illnesses. 


The Pool Filter Helps Keep The Pool Healthy

It is simply common sense that the filter is a necessary component in keeping a pool clean and healthy, but there are many operators who do not know the true importance that filtration plays in the role of keeping a pool or spa safe. 

Your water's filtration system is the key to removing a barrage of harmful substances that can infect your swimmers. Many of the most common pool filters are designed to filter down to the microscopic level, removing even the most harmful and scary illnesses that can live inside of our pools and hot tubs. In fact, the latest research states that the best way to remove the pathogen Cryptosporidium from the water is not chlorine, but filtration. A high powered filter, like a Diatomaceous Earth filter is capable of filtering Cryptosporidium right out of the water. 

There are also products on the market that will boost the filtration power of filters to allow them to gather even smaller particulates than ever, particulates that can harm swimmers. 


Chlorine Is Truly A Human's Best Friend When Swimming

Chlorine or bromine are amazingly effective at inactivating the harmful pathogens that can live in your pool water. The newest recommendations suggest that you seek to keep your chlorine levels constantly between 3.75ppm and 4.0ppm; and your bromine levels between 4-6ppm. By keeping your disinfectant levels up, it greatly, GREATLY, reduces your risk of spreading illnesses that are brought into your water.


Try To keep An Eye On What People Are Bringing Into Your Pool

Sadly, many swimmers don't bathe from head to toe with soap and warm water before entering the pool or hot tub. As an operator it is great practice to try to ensure that people have bathed before getting into the water. By washing with soap and water, swimmers have the ability to wash off many of the pathogens that can be present on their bodies (from places where fecal matter builds up) before it gets into the pool. I am a reasonable person too, though, and understand that this kind of supervision and oversight is not always possible. In cases where supervision isn't possible, ensuring great filtration and disinfection practices is even more important. 


Don't Let Animals Get In The Pool

Animals in the pool spells trouble for swimmer health and safety. Preventing animals from entering the pool, and especially keeping them from defecating in the pool is crucial. If you do find animals, dead or alive, in your pool, please be sure to read this article to find out what precautions need to be taken to prevent the spread of disease. 


Learn As Much About Your Pool As Much As Possible

Pools are simply not simple. Neither are hot tubs. To safely operate and maintain an aquatic facility it truly does take more training than you can find on YouTube or read in an article like this. Thankfully you have options to help you become more knowledgeable about how to keep your swimmers safe. One of these options is taking a CPO Class with Pool Training Academy. Becoming CPO® Certified is one of the best ways to help your swimmers avoid every illness and disease mentioned in this article. Pool Training Academy is the #1 CPO® Certification provider in the world and our classes are specially tailored to be fun, engaging, and most of all relevant to your needs. Click here to sign up for the next class in your area and learn everything you need to know to keep your pool out of the headlines!


Pools Aren't So Scary When You Know What You're Doing

In the end, it is true that the illnesses mentioned in the articles floating around can indeed exist inside a pool, but with the right know-how, application, and proactivity, it won't ever exist inside your pool. 


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