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What's really in the water at the community swimming pool? Microbes from inside the rectums of other swimmers!

Swimming pools

(NaturalNews) Summertime isn't a stroll through the park for everyone. Especially if you live in a hot region like Hawaii, Florida or Texas, a swimming pool becomes a gift from heaven when the temperature gets to 80 degrees plus. A refreshing way to keep cool on a hot day, swimming also provides the opportunity for some healthy exercise and splashes of fun. However, with great fun comes great responsibility, as these oases can easily turn into a bacteria soup.

Pools may be the best way to acquire new friends, but not all of them are as innocent as you might think. If you thought chlorine would take care of germs, you're ... partially right. But some single-cell bacteria, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, don't mind the chlorine. These parasites are the leading factor in world-wide pool-related illnesses associated with the digestive tract. Their protective outer-layer allows Giardia and Crypto to survive in pool water for up to 10 days, which is plenty of time to meet new acquaintances.

Chlorine smell isn't the good sign you thought it was

Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and even fever, are common symptoms caused by Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Still, pool water seems to be the last thing on our minds when we suddenly fall sick in the summer. Indeed, no more than 1-in-10 Americans report to their doctor when these symptoms occur. Even fewer submit samples for lab tests, which means that when they next go to the pool, other people will contract the parasites and get sick.

When we smell chlorine, we're used to thinking that it's a good thing. At least there's something in the water keeping all of those germs at bay, right? First impressions are not always right, however. Besides the fact that chlorine doesn't kill every germ that loves to take a dip, the smell is a bad sign on its own. When chlorine comes in contact with sweat, urine and other micro-organisms from our bodies, a chemical reaction is triggered. The result is what you can tell by your nose.

Chlorine is not everlasting. Each and every reaction it passes through effectively transforms the substance into chloramines, a by-product that does nothing but smell. If more chlorine is put into the water, the smell is reduced and the by-product is eliminated, which means that an optimally clean pool should have enough chlorine to kill potential germs, as well as cover up the resulting scent of this magnificent process. No smell is therefore a much better sign. However, exposure to all those chemicals is certainly not healthy.

More likely than you think

If you were under the impression that the people you swim with aren't predisposed to embarrassing accidents, consider that you don't need "big accidents" to release the microbes into the water. All it takes is a small lack of attention to personal hygiene, or skipping that shower before getting into the pool, to unleash the likes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Norovirus, Shigella spp and their highly-infectious close-relatives already at home in chlorine.

It gets worse. Pools that are poorly tended to and mismanaged in terms of chlorine levels can spread parasites that cause amoebic meningitis. Children bathing in lakes, springs and rivers are more likely to contract this brain-eating parasite, but they can also flourish in warm, fresh water that's inadequately chlorinated. With at least one "accidental release" every week throughout the hot summer, paying attention to the place you decide to take a dip might save you and your family from a multitude of health concerns.

How to protect yourself

Smelly, dirty or cloudy water should be avoided under all circumstances. Other cues to watch for are the tiles on the edges. Generally, if they are not clean or if they have grease on them, it's best to keep your clothes on. When you jump in, try not to ingest any of the water, since this is the main way for parasites to get into your system. Also, try to make sure that children take trips to the bathroom as often as possible. Pee may be sterile, but if a "number 1" is allowed out, what's to keep a "number 2" in?

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