COLUMBIA (WACH) - A recent study done during last summer's swim season found that 3 out of 5 pools frequently contain feces that is introduced into pool water by swimmers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, the CDC collected samples of water from pool filters from public pools in the Atlanta. They tested the samples for genetic material of multiple microbes.
The study found that 58 percent of the pool filter samples tested were positive for E. coli, bacteria normally found in the human gut and feces. With E. Coli detected, its presence was a marker for fecal contamination, according to the report.
The average person has 0.14 grams of fecal material on their "perianal surface" that can rinse into a pool if a person doesn't shower first.
However, E.Coli was not the only bacteria detected in the water samples.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause skin rashes and ear infections, was detected in 59 percent of samples. Finding Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the water indicates natural environmental contamination or contamination introduced by swimmers.
The tests used in the study do not indicate whether the detected germs were alive or able to cause infections.
The study was presented in recognition of Recreational Water Illness and Injury Week to raise awareness about healthy swimming.
The CDC recommends all swimmers take the following steps to prevent infections while swimming:
- Keep feces and other contaminants out of the water
- Do not swim when you have diarrhea
- Shower with soap before you start swimming.
- Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water
- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
- Wash your hands with soap after using the toilet or changing diapers
- Check the chlorine level and pH before getting into the water
- Pools: Proper chlorine (1??3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2??7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power
- Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips
- Do not swallow the water you swim in
CDC recommends that parents of young children also take the following steps
- Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30??60 minutes.
- Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area and not at poolside where germs can rinse into the water.
For more information visit CDC??s healthy swimming / recreational water page.