CINCINNATI -- We’ve all had a moment where we looked into the green, murky water of a pond or lake and decided we were better off on the beach, but chlorinated pools aren’t always safer, according to the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
Pool parasites such as cryptosporidium, which the Centers for Disease Control said causes digestive problems, vomiting and dehydration lasting up to two weeks, can live in pools that haven't been sufficiently sterilized.
“It’s dangerous,” said Jeremy Hessel of Hamilton County Public Health. “Usually we see it in people with compromised immune systems or younger children. … Just because you smell chlorine in a pool doesn’t mean it’s disinfected properly.”
Cryptosporidium is spread through fecal matter, so pools frequented by very young children are most at risk, Hessel said.
Although there has never been a confirmed cryptosporidium outbreak at any CRC pool, interim aquatics director April Chappell said the organization has strict rules for dealing with the possibility.
“Some of our pools have over 1,000 swimmers each day,” she said. “It’s absolutely important that we enforce (safety measures), and it starts at our gate.”
Chappell said CRC pools are kept rigorously clean. If you’re concerned about the possible presence of cryptosporidium or other parasites in your own home pool, the CDC has posted guidelines for sterilization and testing safety indicators such as chlorine and pH levels.