Any hotel worth that knows its onion has a swimming pool which serves as a marketing tool. In the leaflets introducing the available services, it is common to see photographs of tantalising sky-blue pools that send you to the dreamland, even when you don’t know how to swim.
Of course, inability to swim does not necessarily disqualify anybody from using a swimming pool, as you can laze about on the edge or sit in the shallow point while sipping your favourite drinks or watching those who can swim.
Using the swimming pool sometimes attracts higher pay in some hotels, especially for those living nearby who may be expected to join an exclusive club set up for that purpose.
However, using public swimming pools comes at a huge price to health, experts warn. For one, the average pool user relieves himself in the pool, it turns out. And when the ammonia in urine interacts with the chlorine that is usually used to treat swimming pools, scientists say they form a chemical called chloramines, which is known to cause birth defects and respiratory illnesses in humans.
Last year, the most successful Olympic athlete in history, Michael Phelps, confessed to relieving himself in the swimming pool. The 18-time gold medallist seemed to speak in support of team-mate Ryan Lochte, who had earlier confessed to using the aquatics centre pool as a lavatory.
Reports quote 27-year-old Phelps as saying, “Everybody pees in the pool. It’s kind of a normal thing to do for swimmers. When we’re in the water for two hours, we don’t really get out to pee. Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”
As for Lochte, 28, who has won five Olympic gold medals, he confesses, “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go.”
With these confessions from world-class swimmers, what do you think is the situation of the public pools around you?
A report published online in livescience.com states that public swimming pools are more dangerous than anyone might think.
The researchers contend that “When sweat and urine, among other organics, mix with the disinfectants in pool water, the result can be hazardous to health.”
The findings attribute the use of disinfectants in recreational pools to genetic cell damage that has been linked with adverse health issues such as asthma and bladder cancer.
Indeed, a professor of genetics at the University of Illinois, Michael Plewa, warns that one in five people urinate in public pools and that terrible as this is, only 23 per cent of public pool users are concerned about the maintenance and care of the swimming pools they jump into.
A big part of the problems, experts say, is that 35 per cent of pool users don’t take their bath before using public swimming pools, and that that’s why most public pools contain recreational water bacteria caused by the presence of diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses and ear and skin infections.
Plewa also notes that most public pools don’t use environmentally sound disinfectant agents in the water. Instead, he says, they use brominating agents.