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Health and Fitness News

Swimming with Germs

What’s lurking in your pool?

What are you swimming in this summer—crystal clear water or a bacteria bath? Everyone assumes chlorine and pool chemicals do their job of killing bacteria, but is this always the case? As you’re swimming around, the kids are jumping in, and even your dog is enjoying the cool water, you want to enjoy the pool without worrying about getting sick. But can you be assured you’ll leave the pool in good health?

Before diving in, here’s what you can know about the cleanliness of the water you’re swimming in.

RWIs in Abundance

Each year, thousands of people are sickened by recreational water illnesses. Known as RWIs, these illnesses are caused by germs and chemicals found in swimming water. Whether in the pool, hot tub, water park, water fountain, lake, river, or ocean, RWIs are spread by swallowing infected water, breathing in the gas of indoor pool chemicals, or simply touching contaminated waters.

RWIs include illnesses such as diarrhea; skin rashes (especially common in hot tubs); or infections of the eye, outer ear, respiratory system, or a wound. Diarrhea is the most common type of RWI, typically caused by cryptosporidium, giardia, norovirus, E. coli, or Shigella bacteria.

What about Chlorine?

Chlorine makes it possible to have relatively clean pools and hot tubs, but chlorine doesn’t kill every germ instantly and many people fail to maintain recommended levels of chlorine in their pools and hot tubs. Making matters worse, some bacteria have become tolerant to the effects of chlorine and stay alive and active anywhere from several minutes to days before they’re finally killed by chlorine. Until these bacteria are destroyed, all it takes is swallowing a small mouthful for you to get sick. Crypto is one germ that’s hardy enough to survive several days in a chlorinated pool. Because of this, it’s the number one cause of pool-related diarrhea.

To maintain swimming pool water safety, chlorine, pool chemicals, and pH levels must be carefully monitored. Keep in mind that despite strict monitoring, you’re still at risk for RWIs.

Swim but Stay Healthy

There are steps you and your family can take to help prevent recreational water illnesses. The best way to maintain clean pool water is to keep urine, feces, blood, dirt, and sweat from getting in the water. Infected diarrhea contains millions of germs that can quickly contaminate an entire pool, so anyone experiencing diarrhea must stay out of the pool. All open wounds should be covered in a waterproof bandage. You don’t want to think about it, but the average person has an estimated 0.14 grams of fecal matter on their bottom that washes off and swims around with you in the pool. Because of this, everyone should shower for at least a minute before getting in the water.

Before entering a public pool, check its inspection reports. If you own a pool, regularly test its chemical levels. Use simple pool test strips to check the water’s pH, chlorine, and bromine concentrations. The pH levels should be kept between 7.2 and 7.8.

Hot tub chlorine should be at least three ppm (parts per million) and pool chlorine at least one ppm. Bromine levels should be a minimum of four ppm in hot tubs and three ppm in pools. Remember that it’s more difficult to kill germs in hot water, so you’ll need to check chemical levels more frequently in hot tubs than swimming pools.

While in water, keep your mouth closed and encourage your kids to do the same. Take your children to the bathroom at regular intervals and change babies diapers in the restroom, not on the pool deck.

With these tips, the water you swim in will be as clean as possible, leaving you able to enjoy your time and not worry about winding up sick.

About Training with Mr. America
About my programs: Mr. America Jason Kozma's Personal Training is a triple threat of body shaping weight workouts, precision fat-loss cardio and holistic nutrition using regular foods. Using his system, you can radically upgrade your fitness, health appearance and self-confidence. Clients routinely shed 20 pounds of body fat in eight weeks or less, increase their strength and flexibility, and achieve extreme cardiovascular fitness.

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