5 Risks Using Public Pools – Part 2

Legionnaires’ Disease

Water and vapor facilitate the transmission of a bacterium lung disease called Legionnaires’ Disease that is similar to pneumonia. The disease has a strong presence in indoor public swimming pools due to the inhaling of the bacteria in water vapor. It tends to grow in water naturally in “manmade environments,” reports the CDC. However, exposure to the disease does not necessarily mean that you will become ill. In case you are uncertain about whether or not you have been exposed, the CDC says to look out for these signs and symptoms:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • high fever
  • muscle aches
  • headaches

These symptoms can take from two to 10 days to show. With 10,000 to 50,000 cases of Legionnaires’ in the United States reported each year, it is important to take all the precautions necessary to prevent the spread of this infectious disease.

Athlete’s Foot 

Feet exposure in a swimming facility can increase the risk of the highly contagious athlete’s foot. Swimmers who have acquired this disease can easily infect others with the pieces of fungi that fall from their feet if they do not wear sandals or pat their skin after they swim. The National Health Service (NHS) reports that communal showers, swimming pools, and changing rooms are the three top places that athlete’s foot is spread. A helpful tip when you frequent the pool is to wear water-resistant shoes or flip-flops, and avoid borrowing shoes.

Swimmer’s Ear

This bacterial infection occurs in the outer ear canal that appears several days after a swim. When water stays in the ear canal for long periods of time, it allows for bacteria to grow and infect the skin, says Mayo Clinic. The germs that are commonly found in chlorine pools can bring on this illness and is known to be the common cause of swimmer’s ear. The imbalanced levels of disinfectant and pH levels in pools play a significant role in acquiring swimmer’s ear.


Swimming for 40 minutes can result in cancer-causing DNA mutations. In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers studied the effects of genotoxicity in swimmers and the link to the risk of cancer. The 50 healthy adult participants who swam for 40 minutes in a chlorinated pool were seen to have an increased micronuclei in blood lymphocytes, which is linked with cancer risk along with urine mutagenicity brought on by the exposure to these agents. In the pools used for the study, researchers reported the presence of more than 100 DBPs linked to gene mutations, which means swimming pool chemicals contain a moderate risk of cancer. The results of this study does not mean that swimmers should stop this healthy exercise. It is advised that after 40 minutes of this physical activity, you become more susceptible to the chemical agent associated with cancer.

Prevent these five health risks from affecting you and your family. Remember to be swim smart.