"Recreational Water Parks, Spas and Pools Unhealthy?

24 05 2010

Leisurely public pools, water parks and spa tub use are not without its health risk sanitization challenges for those that enjoy the use.  There are many potential risks that a public swim center may pose for the frequent and infrequent user.  And there are also specific challenges for the maintenance personnel that are responsible for an outdoor versus an indoor spa/pool/water park/swimming center.  Since our skin is the largest organ capable of absorbing environmental impurities; all should be aware that improper water sanitization practices can foster unhealthy microorganism growth and chemical absorption health risks.

 Most public pool facilities treat water with Chlorine to kill impurities that would otherwise be unhealthy for the user.  Chlorine is also easily absorbed through our skin as well as the air born emitted chloroform through our respiratory system.  This fact should cause great concern for those that spend a lot of time in the water “especially” in hot tubes.  The skins pores dilate acting more as a sponge when submersed in hot water.  Chloroform release and lung absorption is also compounded through the respiratory blood exchange.   Below I list all potential risks swimmers should be aware in order to reduce health risks when using public swim facilities.

 Public Water Use Transmits Impurities and Potential Health Risks

1)  Fecal contamination released, or washed off of bathers and/or outdoor pool wildlife fecal matter.  2)  There is also non fecal shedding off the body such as, saliva, mucous, vomit and skin.  3)  Infected users can contaminate hot/cold environment with potential pathogenic viral, or fungi organisms.  4) Opportunistic bacteria from users of the aquatic facilities can adapt and survive as amoebae in both hot/cold environments.  5) Indoor spas and pools ventilation systems can be contaminated and transmit pollutants and microorganisms.  6) Wet surfaces of use areas have high potential of unsanitary microorganisms.   (7) Outdoor facilities are challenged with wildlife droppings and other environmental microorganism sanitation issues.  (8) Diarrhea-causing a gastrointestinal illness that chlorine doesn’t always kill is Cryptosporidiosis parasites.  9)  Too much chlorine absorbed, or chloroform inhaled, or consumed can cause illness and disease.

 High Chlorine Use and Exposure Awareness Facts

 “Chlorine treated water’s air born Chloroform can cause allergic symptom from skin rash, irritation to eyes, sinuses, throat, skin and lungs to intestinal symptoms, arthritis and headaches.  Chlorine also weakens the immune system, dries the scalp and hair and creates worse dandruff.  Chlorine studies through animal research found too much chlorinated water consumption causes genetic mutations, initiates cancer and causes liver cancer in laboratory animals.  Canadian researchers found Chloroform risk to be 70-240 times higher in the air within indoor pools than outdoor pools.  After an hour of swimming in a chlorinated pool, chloroform concentrations in the swimmers blood ranged from 100-1,093ppb.”

 Minimize Microorganism & High Chlorine Exposure Risk

 Shower before use; avoid swallowing water, report fecal matter release.

  1. Pool disinfectants burn skin, irritate respiratory; report and avoid use.
  2. If you note much particulate matter, or cloudy water report and avoid use.
  3. Wear eye goggles when in pool and thongs when walking on spa surfaces.
  4. Inquire on maintenance practices: Chemical, filtration & ventilation.
  5. Consult with your physician if swimming benefits outweigh risks.
  6. If you have diarrhea don’t enter spa/pools until 2 weeks after it ends.
  7. If shut down for sanitation cleanup… Inquire on how the microorganisms were killed, e.g., extra chlorine, ultraviolet radiation, or ozone treatment.
  8. If the pool smells heavy of chlorination, don’t go in.

Note:  There are pools that don’t use chlorination: Ultraviolet-ozone and salt.

  Each impurity health concern has the potential to cause a variety of respiratory, dermal or central nervous system infection or diseases.  And in order to reduce risk requires one to become knowledgeable about personal health risk, water treatment/sanitation practices as well as facilities promoting patron hygiene sanitation before use.  The practice of proper chemical use includes, but not limited to, creating and maintaining a neutral ph to provide a non-toxic/microorganism environment while simultaneously maintaining proper water/air filtration and pump system upkeep.  Indoor pools that use chlorine need to ensure ventilation systems have proper filter change out air make up that promotes chloroform exchange out to atmosphere while adequately receiving fresh air makeup.  Without proactive maintenance practices and public swimming use ill-health awareness; you and your children are at greater risk of contracting an infectious illness, or disease.   Stay safe by applying this knowledge and have fun with family in the water this year.

 References

http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water_health/health1/1-public-health-hazards-public-swimming-pools.htm

http://www.webmd.com/news/20070726/cdc-warns-of-swimming-pool-health-risk

http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2000/articles/2000-v15n02-p089.shtml

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.


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