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. A man walks his dog on a hilltop overlooking San Francisco in the early morning hours on Mount Davidson.
    Equity

    When Millennials Battle Boomers Over Housing

    In Generation Priced Out, Randy Shaw examines how Boomers have blocked affordable housing in urban neighborhoods, leaving Millennial homebuyers in the lurch.

  2. Life

    Amazon HQ2 Goes to New York City and Northern Virginia

    After Jeff Bezos set off one of the highest-profile bidding wars in modern history, Amazon picked two East Coast cities for its new headquarters. The surprise extra: There's something in it for Nashville, too.

  3. Design

    Stan Lee’s New York City

    The Marvel Comics maestro gave his superheroes a city that’s colorful, dangerous, rude, quippy, and full of heart. It might be his greatest creation.

  4. A man walks down the Zeedjik.
    Equity

    How a Dutch Housing Agency Rescued an Amsterdam Street From the Drug Trade

    Frustrated by rampant heroin trade, residents of the street Zeedijk forced a public-private real-estate partnership to protect the street while preventing community displacement.

  5. A photo of a resident of Community First Village, a tiny-home community for people who were once living in homelessness, outside of Austin, Texas.!
    Design

    Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

    Community First! Village’s model for ending homelessness emphasizes the stabilizing power of social connections.