Swimming is an excellent exercise specially when weather starts to get hot, no exercise feels better than splash in the pool. Since most of us don’t have access to personal pools we end up using public pools. While it is a good exercise and seems so much fun, has it struck you that there are health hazards lurking in the form of chemicals & germs in the swimming pool and it can make you ill.
Tanmay 32 year male joined a swimming classes in his locality’s sports complex, a week after he had started he was down with diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Diarrhoea is one most common illness picked up from public swimming pools. Swimming pool water is often contaminated with faeces either released by swimmers or animals like rodents or bird droppings. Even bit of faecal matter can contaminate the pool water with a host of germs like E.coli, giardia, cryptospordium, norovirus, etc. which can cause gastro-intestinal infections if you swallow the pool water. After a course of antibiotics prescribed by his doctor, Tanmay got better. Swimmer’s ear is yet another infection which causes inflammation in the ear one can be prone to in infected pool water.
To clean swimming pools chlorine and other disinfectants are used to kill germs and bacteria. However it takes time for disinfectants to kill germs and therefore in a crowded swimming pool disinfectants are not very effective. Chlorine itself is a irritant and long time exposure to chlorinated water can cause respiratory problems and allergies. Also chlorine is a known carcinogen. Skin rashes, neurological problems can be other repercussions of chemicals present in the water.
Being careful and taking a few precautions can protect you from risks:
- Take a shower preferably using a soap before and after swimming.
- If you can smell chlorine, avoid the pool and bring up the issue with the management. Also check for other chemicals and if their level is being tested.
- Avoid swimming in pools you feel don’t maintain hygiene, cleanliness or disinfect it at regular intervals.
- Educate kids not to pee, spit in the pool.
- Chlorination is the cheapest way to disinfect, however go for swimming pools who are willing to look for other safe disinfectants like UV treatment with chlorine as a secondary disinfectant.
- If you have any infection eye or ear, diarrhea, skin rash avoid swimming.
- Use shower cap to prevent hair loss due to chlorinated water.