In case you ever had any doubts that public swimming pools and hot tubs are festering baths of sweat and contamination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a new study that has basically confirmed it. According to ABC News and multiple media outlets, the CDC’s newest report examined 48,632 public aquatic venues in five different states and found that 80% had at least one violation.
This isn’t particularly new news to most reasonable people who have been paying attention, but it is eye-opening nonetheless. Even more concerning is the fact that one out of every eight public pools and hot tubs examined were subsequently closed as a result of too many serious health and safety violations.
“No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground,” Dr. Beth Bell, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases said in a statement. “That’s why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim.”
There were approximately 21 million households in the U.S. that owned a spa, pool, or hot tub in the spring of 2014. Chances are you’d be much better off in anything privately-owned than in the majority of public facilities. The most common violations, according to the study, included improper pH levels (15%), or the measure of the water’s acidity; issues with or lack of safety equipment (13%); and disinfectant concentration (12%).
“You take for granted that you’re safe when you go to these facilities,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He advocates for asking management before jumping in for a dip and using good judgement. “I think [you should] look around the cleanliness of the pool.”
Meanwhile, Healthy and Safe Swimming Week began on May 23, 2016. Swim safe out there, America.