Special Report: What's in the Pool? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: What's in the Pool?

Kavan Howie (WALB image) Kavan Howie (WALB image)
(WALB graphic) (WALB graphic)
(WALB image) (WALB image)
(WALB image) (WALB image)
Ron Turner (WALB image) Ron Turner (WALB image)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

With temperatures this hot, who doesn't want to take a dip in the pool? But, nasty pool pathogens can live in water, and make us really sick, and that might make that swim sound less than appealing.

It's a careful balance to keep those icky germs from multiplying, and that we aren't even checking for them.  With the hot sun blazing overhead, cooling off in Albany's Carver Public Pool water is refreshing fun.

Kavan Howie, Environmental Specialist, Dougherty County Health Department said "We test public pools about two or three times per year."

Howie is testing for how much bacteria-killing chlorine is in the pool water at the Holiday Inn Express. "We actually don't test for bacteria. With public health it's more about preventative maintenance, so we test and make sure the pool has the right chemicals to prevent the bacteria from occurring."

Bacteria that cause Recreational Water Illnesses, bacteria that the Centers for Disease Control says have made swimmers sick.

According to the CDC, a proper level of chlorine will kill a germ.  But not immediately. Chlorine will kill e-coli in less than a minute, but crypto parasite can take up to ten days to die.

Even Howie acknowledges proper chemical levels doesn't ensure a bacteria-free pool. "We would hope, but of course you can't really see, laughs"

Experts say crystal clear water is a good visual indication your pool water is OK. But you still need to test your private pool water weekly.

A quick at-home test shows the chlorine in this clear water is a little low, making it easier for bacteria to breed. For a deeper chemical read people bring bottles of their pool water to Mullins Pool for a FREE test, checking everything from copper to chlorine.

Ron Turner of Mullins Pools says, "It's a spin lab. If we can keep a chlorine level between 1 and 3, generally bacteria doesn't grow well in it." The Spin Lab doesn't test for bacteria.

Turner has been testing pool water for 40 years. "In 1998, when we flooded, we took pools from the floodwater and made them perfectly clear."

Respected by many in the industry, Turner says keeping chemicals in balance, should reassure people the pool water is OK. "We sometimes get the fear factor going. Think about it, we grow up, we swam in whatever. Is the ocean bacteria free? But, how many people go to Panama City? You know?

This public pool water is tested daily, but not for bacteria. Yet experts say it's the chemical balance that keeps bacteria at bay.

"Of course, there are certain circumstances where there could be bacteria growing that's why we focus on safe levels to prevent the bacteria from growing."

Swimmers can help keep pathogens out of our pool water. The CDC recommends that people shower off before getting into the water, and use soap.

Don't swim, or let your child swim, if you have been experiencing diarrhea. Take regular bathroom breaks, and make sure to wash hands after every use.

And, get your kids to the bathroom often. All of those steps can help keep bacteria out of the pool.

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