Supplement Feature - February 2008
Find a printable version here

A Perfect Storm

Are Water and Air Quality on Your Radar Screen Yet?

By Joseph Ryan



When Accidents Happen

No matter how well managed an aquatic facility may be, nothing can prevent body fluid accidents in or near the water. Such accidents can endanger the health of swimmers if not handled properly.

The first step to managing any accident effectively is to quickly and accurately spot and identify the issue. Diarrhea and formed-stool accidents at pools, while unpleasant, are not all that uncommon, and each requires different approaches for proper cleaning.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) officials note that diarrhea accidents should be treated with the greatest care because they are more likely to spread dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites, like cryptosporidium.

In both cases, however, all patrons must be directed to leave the pool and staff should remove as much material as possible with skimmers, nets and scoops. Vacuuming the material is not recommended and all used items should be disinfected after use.

Shut down all aquatic facilities that are connected to the infected pool via filters.

With a diarrhea accident, the pool's chlorine level needs to be raised to 20 parts per million for at least eight hours to ensure all potential crypto and bacteria is killed.

With a formed stool accident, staff can raise the chlorine level to 2 ppm for about 30 minutes before letting patrons back in the pool.

In each case be sure the pH level is maintained between 7.2 and 7.5 throughout the process.

Experts recommend that aquatic facility managers ensure their staff knows how to handle each outbreak.

"You have to educate," said Tom Lachocki, CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation.