Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

June 2019

Survey: Half of Americans Use the Pool as a 'Communal Bathtub'

By Dave Ramont

Swimming pool season is officially upon us. And recently, 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) teamed up to release the 2019 Healthy Pools survey. The survey revealed that half of Americans (51 percent) report using the swimming pool as a "communal bathtub." This might mean using the pool to rinse off after yardwork or exercise, or going swimming as a substitute for showering. This despite the fact that 64 percent of Americans say they know that pool chemicals do not eliminate the need to shower before swimming.

This practice can lead to bad pool chemistry for everyone who gets in the water, but rinsing off prior to swimming can make a big difference, according to Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council. "When dirt, sweat, personal care products and other things on our bodies react with chlorine, there is less chlorine available to kill germs. Rinsing off for just one minute removes most of the dirt, sweat or anything else on your body."

Urine also reacts with chlorine, reducing the amount of chlorine available to kill germs. But according to the survey, which is conducted to educate the public about healthy and safe swimming, 40 percent of Americans admit they've peed in a swimming pool as an adult. Other revelations revealed in the survey include that 48 percent of Americans report they never shower before swimming, and 24 percent would go in a swimming pool within one hour of having diarrhea. Additionally, most Americans don't know that pool chemistry can be affected by personal care items such as makeup (53 percent) and deodorant (55 percent).

"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."

The Water Quality and Health Council is offering free pool test kits through its annual Healthy Pools campaign. The kits can be used to measure chlorine levels and pH in public pools or backyard pools. Only 21 percent of Americans report ever using a pool test kit in a public pool, for instance at a hotel or waterpark.

The Council also suggests checking inspection scores at the swimming venue or online, and they've compiled a growing list of local and state health departments that provide online access to swimming pool inspection reports. If your community or state is not listed, they suggest contacting your health department or checking directly with the facility for more information.

The 2019 Healthy Pools survey was conducted online by Sachs Media Group, which interviewed 3,100 American adults on April 12-13, 2019. The survey was nationally representative of American adults in terms of age, race, gender, income and region. Pool test kits, pool inspection reports and more information can be found at

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