(NaturalNews) Summer is coming. The weather is finally starting to warm up after a long, cold, gray winter. As temperatures rise, kids and parents will begin to look for ways to stay cool, and one of the most favorite pastimes is taking a dip in the local public pool.
There's only one problem: According to new research, that local pool - while it might appear to be crystal clear-blue - is very likely full of feces.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have found genetic material from E. coli bacteria in 58 percent of public pools they tested during the summer of 2012, according to LiveScience.
That means that "swimmers frequently introduced fecal materials into pools," which makes it likely that germs are being spread to other swimmers, the researchers wrote in their investigative report. E. coli bacteria are most often found in the human gut and in feces.
Lack of showering, defecating in pools to blame
The researchers also discovered genetic material from bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa in 59 percent of pools. This bacteria has a tendency to cause skin rashes and ear infections.
According to the CDC researchers, fecal matter gets into pools from swimmers who don't shower before entering the water and from incidents of people or kids defecating in the pools, their report said. The average person has 0.14 grams of fecal matter on their "perianal surface," which can then rinse into a pool if that person doesn't shower first (or wipe better).
The bacterium in the pools can also come from the surrounding natural environment as well as swimmers, say the researchers.
The team's report said it found no evidence of E. coli O157:H7, which is "a toxin-producing E. coli strain that causes illness," according to LiveScience.
"Two parasites, Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which also spread through feces and cause diarrhea, were found in less than 2 percent of samples," the website said.
Researchers studied 161 pools in the Atlanta area. They noted that their findings may not apply to pools all across the country, but they added that there is no indication to believe that contamination to water or swimmer hygiene practices differ between pools that were studied and pools in other locations around the country.
To conduct their findings, researchers took samples of pool water from filters. They were looking for the genetic material of certain bacteria.
"Chlorine and other disinfectants don't kill germs instantly," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the agency's Healthy Swimming Program. "It's important that swimmers shower before getting in a pool, not swallow the water they swim in, and avoid swimming when they have diarrhea," she said.
The nation's preventative health and research agency also recommended that parents of young children take them for a bathroom break every hour, or check diapers of young babies and toddlers every 30-60 minutes, to ensure they don't need to be changed. When they do, changing should take place in a changing area, not at poolside, said the CDC.
More nasty pool habits
In other research, 1 in 5 Americans admit to urinating in public pools, rather than get out and head to the bathroom.
And nearly half - 47 percent - have admitted to at least one of the following behaviors, according to LiveScience:
-- About one-third (35 percent) say they don't shower before entering the pool;
-- 63 percent were unaware of illnesses associated with swallowing, breathing or having contact with contaminated pool water;
-- Less than one quarter consider the frequency of pool cleaning and chemical treatment (23 percent) and even less (16 percent) think about chlorine levels to maintain clean pool water.
"Swimming is a fun and healthy activity for old and young alike. Proper water chlorination helps protect swimmers from germs that can make swimmers sick," Hlavsa said. "But swimmers also have role to play in maintaining a clean and healthy pool. Unhygienic behavior brings germs into the pool and makes it harder for chlorine to do its job."