Denise Fortado/Shutterstock.com

Only you can prevent your municipal swimming pool from being filled with poo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found high rates of fecal matter microbes in the Atlanta metro area's public pools last summer, according to a report released today. The news has led to some predictably hilarious, not to mention gross, headlines this afternoon.

Here's what the report really says: Among 161 samples of pool filter backwash, which tends to be more contaminated than pool water, researchers found P. aeruginosa in 59 percent and E. coli in 58 percent of the samples. The former can be introduced through factors including dirt, kickboards, skin, or fecal matter. The presence of E. coli, the report notes, "indicates that swimmers frequently introduced fecal material into pools," which can come from traces on swimmers or an accident in the pool.

E. coli was just as likely in indoor and outdoor pools, but was significantly more likely in municipal pools versus membership and club pools. The table below shows this breakdown by type of pool.

Pool Type % of samples with
P. aeruginosa
% of samples with
E. coli
Indoor 49 58
Outdoor 64 58
Membership/Club 62 49
Municipal 59 70
Waterpark 51 66

 

The test only determined if the microbes were in the sample, not if they were infectious. The pools in the study were also a convenience sample, according to the report, and "study findings cannot be generalized to pools in metro-Atlanta or beyond." Also, it noted that there were no illnesses reported from swimming pools in the state that year.

But the CDC says the presence of these microbes is a problem, and likely a widespread one. The report notes:

Since 1978, the incidence of recreational water illness (RWI) outbreaks of acute gastrointestinal illness has substantially increased, driving the marked increase in incidence of RWI outbreaks overall. A major contributing factor is poor swimmer hygiene (i.e., diarrheal incidents) in the implicated pools.

It advocates proper pool maintenance as well, but the moral of the report? Shower before swimming, take bathroom breaks, and wash your hands after using the bathroom. Also, duh, don't drink pool water.

Top image: Denise Fortado/Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Homes in Amsterdam are pictured.
    Equity

    Amsterdam's Plan: If You Buy a Newly Built House, You Can't Rent It Out

    In an effort to make housing more affordable, the Dutch capital is crafting a law that says anyone who buys a newly built home must live in it themselves.

  2. Equity

    How Poor Americans Get Exploited by Their Landlords

    American landlords derive more profit from renters in low-income neighborhoods, researchers Matthew Desmond and Nathan Wilmers find.

  3. Transportation

    China's 50-Lane Traffic Jam Is Every Commuter's Worst Nightmare

    What happens when a checkpoint merges 50 lanes down to 20.

  4. Design

    Cities Deserve Better Than These Thomas Heatherwick Gimmicks

    The “Vessel” at New York’s Hudson Yards—like so many of his designs—look as if the dystopian world of 1984 has been given a precious makeover.

  5. Design

    A Modernist Gas Station With a New Purpose

    How an architecture firm turned a Mies van der Rohe-designed Esso in a remote section of Montreal into the La Station community center.