CDC report shows most public pools aren’t as clean or safe as we thought
Public pools are a great, relatively cheap way to stay cool and occupy the kids throughout the hot summer months, but according to the CDC, they’re also an Olympic-sized vat of bodily fluids, fecal matter, chemicals, and disgusting bacteria. Don’t buy it? Well, then you’re really not going to like this latest report.
The CDC analyzed data from 84,187 routine inspections of public pools, hot tubs, and water parks in five states, and what they found is that nearly 80 percent of them have at least one health or safety violation. Even worse, one in eight water facilities had violations so serious they were forced to close immediately upon inspection.
The “aquatic venues” in the report are located in New York, California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida — states the LA Times says were chosen because they comprise 40 percent of the nation’s public water play facilities. The most common problems they found were issues with pools’ pH levels, improper safety equipment (which increases the risk of drowning), and problems with the concentration of disinfectants (you know, the chemicals that are supposed to kill gross stuff in the water).
On their own, the results might not be enough to convince you that public pools are the grossest thing ever, but when you pair them with some of the CDC’s other reports? Yuck. Just, yuck. Last year, they issued a warning about people getting red eyes and skin irritation due to large amounts of urine in pools. Two years before that, they noted that 58 percent of public pool filters tested positive for E. Coli, an indicator of “fecal contamination.”
Knowing that public pools basically double as public toilets, it’s not very reassuring to think about wildly varying pH levels or issues with disinfectants. That’s the kind of thing that could ruin a summer vacation. Luckily, if your kids just love swimming — and what kid doesn’t — there are steps you can take to decrease the “ick” factor.
The CDC recommends showering before swimming, to keep any grossness from accumulating in pools in the first place. They also recommend purchasing test strips to measure the disinfectant and pH levels before you go cannon-balling into the deep end. Lastly, they strongly advise everyone to get the hell out of the water when it’s time to do bathroom business because this is the kiddie pool, not a four-foot deep, rectangular toilet, you animals.
If it’s any consolation, public pools were gross long before any of this information became available and we all survived. Chances are the kids are going to be just fine. That said, if you’re scarred for life and can’t take the image of your children swimming in pee soup with a messed up pH, there are always squirt guns and water balloons.