In preparation for this year’s swim season, the Water Quality & Health Council commissioned a survey to find out just how much adults in the United States know about swimming hygiene.
Sachs Media Group, an independent research firm based in Tallahassee, Fla., interviewed 3,114 adults ages 18 and up. Questions were designed to measure perceptions and misconceptions related to pools and public health, according to the Council.
The findings indicated a need for more public education: 25% of adults studied would swim within one hour of experiencing diarrhea; 52% rarely or never shower before swimming in a pool; and 60% said they have swallowed pool water while swimming.
Results also suggest a lack of knowledge about cryptosporidium. Of the adults surveyed, 72% were not aware that crypto is a parasite that spreads in water, and 82% did not know chlorine will not instantly kill crypto in pools.
“Crypto is not easily killed by chlorine and can live up to 10 days in well-treated pools,” said Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, epidemiologist and chief of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Swimming program. “Just a small number of crypto germs can make someone sick. That’s why it is important to keep crypto out of the water in the first place.”
People can continue to shed crypto for up to two weeks after diarrhea stops. For this reason, health officials advise telling those who have had diarrhea to stay out of recreational water until they have been diarrhea-free for two weeks.