Health Alert: Cesspool

NATIONAL - Have you ever wondered what might lurk in pool water and what you can do to keep it clean? Health experts want you to know that even though most pools look crystal clear, swimmers can do a lot to help keep that water clear of germs. So just what do you need to know before jumping in?

Maintaining the pool is a family affair at the Peniston's, and as a doctor, John Peniston is aware of the risk posed by neglected pool water.

"A lot of diseases can be transferred through the water and you have to be very careful," he says, especially when the pool is popular with the kids. "When you get ten, fifteen kids in there, you actually should increase the chlorine level prior to get ready, 'cause the pool can be contaminated if you're not careful."

Whether it's a home or community pool, recreational water illnesses can affect you in many ways.

"They can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin infections, eye, ears, nose, throat and respiratory infections."

And while chlorine is a known antimicrobial, your personal pool hygiene can make it less effective.

"Our perspiration contains nitrogen and ammonia. If we don't shower off first when we go into the water, this uses up chlorine, so we're actually draining the pool water of chlorine because it's using it to get ride of our perspiration."

Not only that, but if you smell chlorine, beware.

"If you smell chlorine there's not enough in the water. It's being used up to get rid of all these contaminants so the water is not that clean."

What can you do to pump up your pool hygiene? One: shower before swimming. Two: stay out of the pool for two days after having diarrhea. Three: change diapers away from the pool area. Then you can swim like a fish, but in less fishy water.

Summer weather finds many public, decorative fountains put to use as swimming or water play areas, but they are not meant for swimming.

Believe it or not, they could have more bacteria than your toilet.

Posted by Bryce Mursch