Is The Pool Clean?

It is the season for pool parties, but you might want to pause a moment before you grab your kickboard and check the safety tips provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for healthy public pools.

According to the CDC, 54 percent of all swimming pools were in violation of at least one public health code. And the study also found that, in the past two decades, the number of reported outbreaks of diarrhea illness associated with swimming increased ten-fold.

Think it's a good thing when a pool smells like chlorine? Not necessarily, says Dr. Michael Beach of the CDC, who is the team leader of the Water and Environment Group, Division of Parasitic Diseases, at the CDC. He tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler that strong chemical odor is not chlorine.

He explains, "It's chlorine binding, all of that material that we dump in there. The less we dump in the pool and send to the restroom and so on, the less that you're going to have that odor that stings your eyes. The strong odor is an indicator of poor maintenance. Talk to your operator if it's like that. It shouldn't be. They can get rid of that."

The CDC offers the following precautionary measures:

  • Proper chlorination to kill waterborne germs
  • Good sanitation practices
  • Suitable personal hygiene in and around the swimming area

And offers the following guidelines:
  • Don't swallow pool water.
  • Practice good hygiene.
  • Stay out of the pool if you have diarrhea.

Dr. Beach says, "There are some myths out there, that chlorine kills everything. Therefore, some people still take their children swimming when they're ill with diarrhea. But there are germs out there now that have come up in the past decade or so that are resistant to the chlorine in your pool. We need to keep the people out so the pool doesn't get contaminated in the first place."

By all means, don't swallow the water. He says, "We don't want to think about swimming as a communal bathing activity, but that's what it is. When you go in the bath, you don't swallow the water. Why are you doing it in the pool?"

It is very important to shower beforehand. He says, "You see people showering afterwards to get the chlorine water off of them. What they need to do is get all that debris off their bodies beforehand. All of that goes into the pool, and basically uses up the chlorine that should be saved for killing germs."

The water should look clear and the sides should not be slimy. "You should be able to see the main drain," Dr. Beach says.