It's nearly Memorial Day weekend, when pools across the United States will open back up for the summer – but before you go jumping in the public pool, here's a reason you may want to think twice.
A new study, published by the Water Quality & Health Council, says 51% of Americans report using the swimming pool as a substitute for showering or taking a bath to get rid of sweat or dirt.
The dirt, sweat, and other things on our bodies react with chlorine, leaving less of it available to kill germs.
“Rinsing off for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt, sweat, or anything else on your body," said Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council.
But 48% of Americans reported that they never shower before swimming, even though 64% report knowing that pool chemicals don't eliminate the need to shower beforehand.
Another disturbing finding? The study found that 40% of Americans admit they've peed in a pool as an adult.
Urine also reacts with chlorine, reducing the amount available to kill germs.
"The bottom line is: Don’t pee in the pool,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming program.
The survey also revealed that 24% of Americans would go in a swimming pool within one hour of having diarrhea. As a reminder, pools have policies in place that generally require shutting down for a full day if someone has diarrhea in the water, going through an intense cleaning and filtration process to cleanse the water. Don't be the one that makes that happen.
Plus, most Americans don’t know that pool chemistry can be impacted by such personal care items as makeup (53%) and deodorant (55%).
Only about 21% say they've ever used a pool test kit to check chlorine and pH levels, but the researchers theorize that could help raise awareness of the health problems caused by the other hygiene issues.
The Water Quality & Health Council has compiled a growing list of local and state health departments that provide online access to swimming pool inspection reports. You can find that list here. You can also contact your local health department directly for inspection reports on pools in your area.
The survey that yielded these results was titled the 2019 Healthy Pools survey, and was conducted online by Sachs Media Group, interviewing 3,100 American adults on April 12–13, 2019.
The survey's margin of error was +/- 2.7% at the 95% confidence level and was nationally representative of American adults in terms of age, race, gender, income, and region.
You can find more on the survey results here.
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