Survey says: Half of Americans use swimming pools as communal bathtub

Memorial Day weekend is around the corner, and you may want to know what you’re getting into before the summer swim season starts.

A new national swimming survey found that more than half of Americans (51%) report using a swimming pool as a communal bathtub.

Uses include either swimming as a substitute for showering or using the pool to rinse off after exercise or yardwork. The habit has taken hold despite nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans report they know that pool chemicals do not eliminate the need to shower before swimming.

Experts from the Water Quality & Health Council, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) are educating the public about healthy and safe swimming.

“When dirt, sweat, personal care products, and other things on our bodies react with chlorine, there is less chlorine available to kill germs,” said Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council. “Rinsing off for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt, sweat, or anything else on your body.”

Additionally, the survey finds that 40% of Americans admit that they’ve urinated in the pool as an adult. Urine also reacts with chlorine, reducing the amount of the chlorine available to kill germs.

“The bottom line is: Don’t pee in the pool,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming program. “Swimming is a great way to be physically active and not peeing in the pool is a key healthy swimming step.”

Related: Cooling off in the pool? Here are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe 

The survey also revealed that 24% of Americans would go in a swimming pool within one hour of having diarrhea, and 48% report that they never shower before swimming.

Most Americans don’t know that pool chemistry can be affected by personal care items such as makeup (53%) and deodorant (55%).

“Pools are great places to have fun with friends and family,” said Jim Mock, Interim Executive Director of the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance. “A trained pool operator can get the mix of pool chemicals healthy and safe, and swimmers can help keep it right by swimming healthy.”

Only one in five Americans (21%) say they ever use a pool test kit to check chlorine levels and pH in a public pool. By offering free pool test kits through its 15th annual Healthy Pools campaign, the Water Quality & Health Council is hoping to change that.

You are encouraged to check inspection scores at the swimming venue or online. The Water Quality & Health Council has compiled a growing list of local and state health departments that provide online access to swimming pool inspection reports.

If you don’t see your local community or state listed, contact your health department, check on site at the pool facility or ask the pool’s manager directly for more information.

The 2019 Healthy Pools survey was conducted online by Sachs Media Group and measured perceptions and behaviors related to swimming pools and public health.

Sachs Media Group interviewed 3,100 American adults between April 12-13. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.7% at the 95% confidence level and was nationally representative of American adults in terms of age, race, gender, income, and region.

Click here to order your free pool test kit.

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