Pool or Petri Dish?

Our public pools are cleaner than you think

By George M. Withers

It’s hot. Keep cool. Make the kids happy with a few hours of splashing around at the neighbourhood pool. With 48 indoor and 74 outdoor pools to choose from across the city, you could hypothetically take a dip in a different pool every day of summer vacation.

Go ahead. Take the plunge. But wait! What about water quality? Forget urban myth. If you trust the City of Montreal’s website, tests are conducted once every two weeks for outdoor pools and every four weeks for indoor pools.

The tests are in accordance with the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks. Supplementary tests are to be conducted by pool managers or lifeguards every three hours of operation.

That’s good. And hopefully everyone involved is vigilant because, well, humans secrete all kinds of stuff in the pool. According to an American survey conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council, one in five people admit to peeing in the pool, while 35 per cent say they don’t shower before swimming. Researchers at Purdue University showed how airborne contaminants are created when chlorine reacts with sweat and urine in indoor swimming pools and cause respiratory irritation.

Then there’s cryptosporidium, one very nasty parasite left behind by feces. It’s one of the most common diarrheal diseases linked with swimming pools. It can survive up to 10 days, even when present in a properly treated pool.

Fortunately, serious pool-related outbreaks are rare in Canada, according to a recent CBC report. Experts preach caution. Stick to pools listed on the City’s portal (ville.montreal.qc.ca), shower before and after, don’t swallow the water, and keep sick kids out of the pool.


Summer 2018, Vol 10 N°3

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