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 photo of an electric vehicle
    Transportation

    The Problem With Switching to Electric Cars

    Switching to EVs en masse could help bring down planet-killing carbon emissions. But Americans also need to drive less, right now.

  2. Life

    Why the U.K. Travel Giant Thomas Cook Collapsed

    With cheap flights and Airbnb at their fingertips, British travelers have branched out from the package beach vacations that were Thomas Cook’s specialty.

  3. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it
    Transportation

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  4. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  5. A man entering a public bus in Helsinki
    Perspective

    Helsinki’s MaaS App, Whim: Is It Really Mobility’s Great Hope?

    The transport app Whim is oft-cited as a model for the future of urban mobility. Two years post-launch, has it changed the way people move around Helsinki?

×