01 June 2018
FRIDAY, June 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Before you take a dip in the pool this summer, be sure there’s not too much chlorine in the water. Over the past 10 years, more than 500 people in California have been exposed and sickened by too much chlorine while swimming, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). More than half of those affected were at public pools, and about 66 percent of the incidents weren’t caused by faulty equipment. “Whether you are a homeowner with a pool or you run a public water park or community pool, you must follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and not exceed the amount of chlorine specified,” said Brian Leahy, director of the DPR. “The directions for use on the label are both state and federally approved to ensure safety. The ‘label is the law’ when it comes to disinfectants, and its directions for use must be followed,” he said in a department news release. Chlorine, either solid or liquid, is a pesticide used in pools to destroy germs, including those from feces, urine, saliva and other substances. But excessive exposure to chlorine can cause sickness and injuries, including rashes, coughing, nose or throat pain, eye irritation and bouts of asthma, health experts warn. Instructions for safely chlorinating a pool usually call for a maximum of four parts per million when people are in the pool. This level is more than enough to disinfect pools, according to the news release. Using higher concentrations may sicken swimmers. In addition, those running public pools should ensure that automatic chlorination equipment is well maintained and operating according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Employees should be trained to operate the equipment and be prepared to deal with malfunctions. Moreover, safe handling of chemicals is as important as avoiding excess chlorination. Keys to handling chemicals safely include: Disposing of pool chemicals and their packaging according to label directions. Storing chemicals according to label instructions. Keeping all chemicals out of the reach of children. Showering before and after getting into a pool to prevent skin reactions from chlorine. More information For more on healthy swimming, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
17 May 2018
THURSDAY, May 17, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds may be synonymous with summertime fun, but they also can be breeding grounds for dangerous germs that could make you violently ill. In some cases, they can even lead to death, U.S. health officials reported Thursday. And of all the outbreaks from waterborne germs between 2000 and 2014, one-third occurred in pools or hot tubs at hotels, the officials said. “We often underestimate what it takes to properly run a pool or hot tub to maintain a chlorine level where it needs to be,” said study lead author Michele Hlavsa, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Swimming Program. That’s why the CDC recommends that public pools — including hotel pools and water parks — be run by people trained to keep the water free from contamination, she said. Most of the reported outbreaks were caused by three serious infections — Cryptosporidium (known as Crypto), Legionella and Pseudomonas. Crypto is a parasite hardy enough to survive even properly chlorinated pools, Hlavsa warned. It’s usually contracted by swallowing pool water, often when it has been contaminated by diarrhea. The infection can cause up to three weeks of severe diarrhea, she said. Although cases of Crypto have decreased since 2008, the decline has leveled off, Hlavsa said. Pseudomonas and Legionella (which can cause Legionnaires’ disease) are bacteria that can defy disinfectants and live in slimy areas of hot tubs, pools and water parks. These bacteria can enter the body through the skin, eyes or nose, Hlavsa explained. According to the new report, 493 outbreaks of waterborne infections were reported between 2000 to 2014, causing more than 27,000 illnesses and eight deaths. Crypto caused 58 percent of outbreaks and 89 percent of the illnesses. Legionella caused 16 percent of the outbreaks, and Pseudomonas caused 13 percent. Legionella can lead to severe pneumonia and flu-like symptoms, while Pseudomonas can result in “hot tub rash” and swimmers’ ear, the CDC said. Those most susceptible to Legionella include people aged 50 or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease and those with weakened immune systems. Hlavsa cautioned that it’s likely that not all outbreaks were reported to the CDC, and more people were probably sickened than the new report indicates. The findings were published May 18 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Dr. Marc Siegel is a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. He said that “the public underappreciates how risky pools are.” They have to be carefully cleaned and chlorinated, filters have to be changed regularly and the water has to be circulating, he said. Swimmers, too, have a responsibility not to spread germs into pool water, Siegel said. “What one does affects other people — that’s the basic concept of public health,” he added. To protect yourself and others when in pools, hot tubs or water parks, the CDC advises: Not swimming or letting your children swim when sick with diarrhea. If Crypto caused the diarrhea, wait two weeks after the diarrhea has stopped before swimming. Take kids for bathroom breaks. And change diapers in a changing area away from the water. Check inspection scores of pools, hot tubs and water parks. Use test strips to check if the water’s chlorine levels are proper. Don’t swallow pool water. More information Healthy and Safe Swimming Week begins May 21. To learn more about staying healthy while swimming, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.