You might think the chlorine in the water is working its magic when it smells strongly of it inside the facility. Yet, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that the pungent smell of the “chlorine” is actually chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with broken down body particles such as pee, poop, sweat and dirt.
If you find that gross, wait till you hear about the microbes and body particles the average swimmer can bring into the pool.
• Hair: 10 million microbes
• Spit: 8 million microbes in a single drop
• Hands: 5 million microbes
• Poop: 140 billion microbes
• Nose, mouth, skin: Billions of microbes
• Skin products: Lotions, cosmetics, soaps
• Sweat: 1 or 2 soda cans of sweat
• Pee: 1 cup
The average amount of water swallowed in 45 minutes of swimming:
• Adults: 1 tablespoon
• Kids: 2 ½ tablespoons
This amount is enough to give someone diarrhea, skin, ear respiratory, eye and neurological infections. Children are the most vulnerable for getting sick.
Is the only option to avoid the pool? No. Monongalia County Health Department advises that you can avoid spending your summer indoors and still be safe if you take these steps to achieve healthy and safe swimming.
• Don’t swim or let your kids swim when sick with diarrhea.
• Don’t swallow water.
• Check out the pool’s latest inspection score. You can do that online.
• Take kids out of the pool and on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
• Check diapers every 30–60 minutes and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not waterside—to keep germs away from the water.
• Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just one minute helps get rid of most stuff that might be on swimmer’s body.
• Do your own mini-pool inspection. Here’s how:
Buy strips to test pH and free chlorine or bromine in the pool. These can be purchased at most superstores, hardware stores and pool supply stores.
CDC recommends pH 7.2–7.8. The free chlorine concentration should be at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas. The free bromine concentration should be at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas.
Other segments of the mini-inspection including making sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end of the pool is visible; the drain covers at the bottom appear to be secured and in good repair; and that a lifeguard is on duty at the pool, or it at least has safety equipment such as a rescue ring or pole. If a pool does not pass, don’t get in the pool. Let management or the owner of the pool know about the problem so they can fix it.
Pool inspections are conducted by MCHD Environmental Health twice a year. Chlorine and pH checks are also done bi-weekly by sanitarians. You can also call and make a complaint to Environmental Health at 304-598-5131 or online if a pool does not pass your personal inspection.