Spending a summer afternoon at a local swimming pool is an inexpensive way for kids and adults alike to keep cool and have fun. But it’s not just families who love public pools. Bacteria and germs do, too! Pubic pools with inadequate cleaning practices and fellow bathers who ignore the pool’s hygiene rules can expose you and your family to bacteria and viruses.

Remember, germs never take a vacation! A public pool may welcome thousands of bathers over the course of a single summer. Poor water maintenance or inconsiderate users who are contaminated with bacteria can easily turn a fun-filled afternoon into a nasty illness. That’s because it’s easy for the bacteria, parasites and viruses found in pool water to enter our body through our mouth, nose, skin or mucous membranes.

5 most frequently caught infections in public swimming pools

  • Gastro (diarrhea, nausea)
  • Eye infections (conjunctivitis)
  • Ear infections (otitis)
  • Respiratory infections
  • Skin infections (dermatitis)

The key? Disinfect and oxidize

Although chlorine is a good way to destroy germs, its disinfecting power can take hours or even days to take effect – during which time infections are easily picked up! Adding a disinfectant to water in public pools is therefore especially important, because it will eliminate pathogens, bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae. A disinfectant creates an electrochemical reaction that releases an algaecide, bactericide and fungicide. Public pool water also has to be oxidized (with an oxidizer) to decompose these microorganisms and remove the floating particles from the water.

Some disinfectants are also antioxidants, such as chlorine-based disinfectants (which form chloramines). Active oxygen and ozonators are greener oxidation options than chlorine, but are more expensive.

Bear in mind that even if a pool looks clean, it can still contain microorganisms. Clear water doesn’t necessarily mean bacteria-free water. In public swimming pools, chlorine levels have to be checked several times a day and bacteria tests should be performed weekly or biweekly depending on the pool. Have a great swim and look out for infections!