by Pool Builders on 04-10-2013 in Articles

Swimming pool sanitation refers to methods for ensuring healthy conditions in swimming, hot tubs, plunge pools, and similar recreational water venues. Proper sanitation is needed to maintain the visual clarity of water and to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. The methods of sanitation include; filtration to remove pollutants, disinfection to kill infectious microorganisms, swimmer hygiene to minimize the introduction of contaminants into pool water, and regular testing of pool water, including chlorine and pH levels.

The World Health Organization has published international guidelines for the safety of swimming and similar recreational water environments, including; standards form minimizing microbial and chemical hazards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on pool sanitation and water related illnesses for health professionals and the public.

Swimming pool contaminants are introduced from environmental sources and swimmers. Affecting primarily outdoor swimming, environmental contaminants include windblown dirt and debris, incoming water from sanitary sources, rain containing microscopic algea spores and droppings from birds possibly harboring disease causing viruses. Contaminants introduced by swimmers can dramatically influence the operation of indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Sources include micro-organisms from infected swimmers and body oils including sweat, cosmetics, suntan lotion, urine, saliva, and fecal matter. In addition, the interaction between disinfectants and pool water contaminants can produce a mixture of chloramines and other disinfection by-products.

Pathogenic contaminants are of the greatest concern in pools as they have been associated with numerous recreational water illnesses (RWIs). Public health pathogens can be present in swimming pools as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Diarrhea is the most commonly reported illness associated with pathogenic contaminants, while other diseases associated with untreated pools are Cryptosporidiosis and Giardiasis. Other illnesses commonly occurring in poorly maintained pool include otitis externa, commonly called swimmers ear, skin rashes, and respiratory infections.

Contamination can be minimized by good swimmer hygiene practices such as showering before and after swimming, not letting children swim with intestinal disorders. Effective treatments are needed to address contaminants in pool water because preventing the introduction of pool contaminants, pathogenic and non-pathogenic, into pools is impossible.

A well maintained, properly operating pool filtration system and re-circulation system is the first barrier in combating contaminants large enough to be filtered. Rapid removal of filterable contaminants reduces the impact on the disinfection system thereby limiting the formation of chloramines, restricting the formation of disinfection by-products and optimizing sanitation effectiveness. To kill pathogens and help prevent recreational water illnesses, pool operators must maintain proper levels of chlorine or another sanitizer.

Ideal chemical parameters include disinfectant levels according to regulated pesticide label directions; pH between 7.2 to 7.8, total alkalinity of 80 to 120 ppm and calcium hardness between 200 to 400 ppm.

The education of parents of small children and other people with regard to good hygienic behavior at swimming pools is also for improving health safety at swimming pools and spas. Showering before swimming can reduce introduction of contaminants. Those with diarrhea or other gastroenteritis illnesses should not swim, especially children. To minimize exposure to pathogens, swimmers should avoid getting water into their mouths and never swallow pool or spa water.

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