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Dirty Public Pool Cause of E. Coli Outbreak Says CDC

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When the summer months arrive the hot weather has families rushing to their local public pool. One incident recorded by the CDC shows how contaminated water and a lack of oversight may spoil the enjoyment.

Dirty Public Pool Cause of E. Coli & C.Difficile Outbreak

Last summer, a public pool in Pennsylvania experienced an incident where over a dozen children became gravely ill from two forms of bacteria, E. Coli and C. Difficile. An investigation showed that children who had swam in the pool and had ingested water were affected roughly 48 hours after exposure.

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Experts say that normally bacteria like E. coli and C. difficile. find their way into bodies of water from swimmers who experience diarrhea, however, there are numerous studies that have shown the bacteria can enter a water source and proliferate in other ways.

There were 15 cases (9 confirmed, 6 probable) in people aged 4–14 years; 10 patients were male. All of the individuals reported swimming at the pool on May 31, 2021, the seasonal opening date, and had no additional common exposures.

The day of the incident, the total number of pool guests was unknown. Symptoms began appearing within a few hours to as long as several days. In total, 13 patients wound up seeking medical attention, and 6 were admitted to the hospital. C. difficile antibiotics were administered to 4 people. Luckily, in this particular instance, there were no cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare but serious illness that affects the kidneys and prevents blood clotting in those who’ve been infected.

Fact-Finding Conducted by CDC

Notes from the investigation were published on May 20 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The investigation determined that the swimming pool’s automatic chlorinator was broken and that record-keeping was not in accordance with local regulations. Consequently, what limited data that was available revealed at least one case where there was no detectable chlorine.

We reached out to experts in the industry who clean and service public swimming pools to get their perspective on what went wrong in the process.

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Preventing Repeat Instances

“Equipment malfunctions are inevitable,” said pool service technician Cole Daasnes, “a system of redundant precautions would definitely reduce the likelihood of someone being harmed by it. If we managed that public pool, we’d have a digital pool monitor in place. Someone should be doing weekly equipment checks on the feeders, pumps, and filtration pressure as well as checking it with a test strip when they open the pool for the day. Those results should be recorded in a logbook.”

Stephen Little, CEO and owner of Claro Pools, a large pool service company in Palm Desert said, “This is just a cascade of failures. Lack of redundancies and a protocol to establish layers of safety are clearly missing here,” said Little. “If I was the manager of this pool, I would put a flowchart together to see exactly where the failure occurred.”

“Public pools should be using an NSF 50 rated peristaltic pump that automates chlorine levels. Rola-chem makes a great one, as does Stenner. Point is there are plenty of companies who make chemical feeders that prevent this exact type of problem from occurring,” said Little.

CDC Guidelines For Public Pools

  • Adhere to recommended bather load limits.
  • Free chlorine levels between 1–3 parts per million.
  • pH level of 7.2–7.8.
  • Testing of pH and disinfectant levels at least twice daily (when in heavy use – hourly).
  • Maintain a recorded log of disinfectant/pH measurements and maintenance activities.
  • Maintain filtration and recirculation systems to manufacturer operational guidelines.

“I’m a firm believer in using alternative sanitizers,” said Gregg Sample of Chlorine Solutions, “Public pools really need boric acid restrictions lifted. It’s basically adding insurance for the water. I have found through testing my own pool that Boric Acid and a PoolRx are a redundant measure of sanitization.”

“There should be daily chemical checks of chlorine and pH and recording on a physical log,” said former public pool inspector for the Florida Department of Health, Lauren Broom. “There should be proper training of operators. Someone should be conducting a daily check of the pool equipment as part of their daily opening and closing checklist and responsible for closing the pool when it don’t meet specific requirements like chlorine level.”

Clearly, there was a disconnect in this instance which allowed for a breach in protocol where recommended guidelines were not adhered to. “It’s a failure to care,” said Rudy Stankowitz, a pool chemistry expert, author, and instructor who teaches professionals best practices. “If the facility was managed properly the condition would not have gone unnoticed/uncorrected for more than a couple of hours,” said Stankowitz, “The only real proactive solution is a greater regulatory presence.”

E. Coli and other pathogens such as Naegleria fowleri, Giardia, Shigella, Norovirus can cause serious illness. This one instance is a perfect example of how the public can be protected from RWI’s by establishing and following proper pool maintenance protocols.

Citation:

Nace ME, Wallace JL, Kline KE, Plipat N. Notes from the Field: Escherichia coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Children with Clostridioides difficile Colonization Associated with an Improperly Treated Swimming Pool — Pennsylvania, June 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:690–691. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7120a4external icon

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Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of PoolMarketing.com, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email info@poolmagazine.com or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to submissions@poolmagazine.com

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Chlorine Prices Continue To Go Up This Summer

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Chlorine Prices Continue To Soar

With no relief in sight, chlorine prices continue to soar as costs keep rising for pool chemicals this summer. Since almost the very start of the pandemic prices for pool sanitizers like chlorine have nearly doubled and at the retail level consumers are paying nearly triple what they were before the end of 2020.

What Caused Prices To Go Up?

Soaring costs for fuel, rising inflation, and a litany of other factors such as logistical delays and workforce shortages have plagued the pool industry. A factory closure due to a fire at one of the nation’s largest producers of dried chlorine products certainly did not help matters.

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BioLab, the manufacturer in question is spending $170 million dollars on rebuilding their plant after it burnt to the ground during Hurricane Laura. While many pool professionals were hoping that the plant would be back online in time to impact and offset summer chlorine prices, a series of delays related to a second hurricane has pushed back operations. Consequently, any impact BioLab’s production would have had on this year’s chlorine supply is now a moot point.

Will Chlorine Prices Go Back Down?

Industry pundits and analysts know what caused prices to spike. That’s never been the issue. The question that remains to be answered: When will chlorine prices go back down? The answer is, they won’t.

While chlorine prices are expected to stabilize somewhat within the next year, rising costs, inflation, and an increase in consumer demand will keep chlorine prices high well into next summer and the immediate, foreseeable future.

Exactly how much have Chlorine prices increased?

Chlorine like many other chemicals is a commodity. As such the prices for chemical commodities are clearly viewable from various credible sources. The price index for Alkalies and Chlorine, Including Natural Sodium Carbonate and Sulfate, reached a record high of 483.79600 in May of 2022. As we progress later into the summer and prices are predicted to continue to rise and blow away analysts’ forecasts.

Price of Chlorine - source: tradingeconomics.com
Price of Chlorine – source: tradingeconomics.com

In response to a changing market, many pool professionals began to switch to liquid chlorine and alternative sanitizing methods to help offset operational costs. Consequently, these materials have also increased in price over the last year and a half. Exactly how high have prices gone?

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Financing options are available for purchasing chlorine tablets.
Financing options are available for purchasing tablets.

Well let’s put it this way, you can finance a 50-pound $449 bucket of Bromine tablets for just $41 bucks a month if you buy it from Leslie’s, on Amazon you’ll pay $498 if you can find them in stock. That we’re at a state that necessitates the need for consumers to be able to finance a bucket of tablets, is a pause for reflection on exactly how high prices have gone up.

The price of a 50 pound bucket of chlorine tablets is now almost $500 on Amazon.
The price of a 50 pound bucket of tablets is now almost $500 on Amazon.

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3D Printed Pools Ready To Hit The Market

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3D Printed Pool by San Juan Fiberglass Pools

San Juan Pools is ready to usher in the era of 3D-printed pools. The fiberglass pool manufacturer were on Fox & Friends yesterday demonstrating the first-ever 3D printed fiberglass swimming pool.

The advent of 3D printing promises to lower the cost for building homes, and it would seem that the same holds true for swimming pools. With dealerships all over the United States, San Juan Pools has been operating its family-owned business for almost 65 years. As one of the largest manufacturers of fiberglass pools, the 3D printed pool is a first for the pioneers.

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World’s First 3D Printed Fiberglass Pool Hits The Streets of Manhattan

San Juan shipped their Baja Beach model up to midtown Manhattan where Bedell explained the technology behind 3d printing a swimming pool and allowed hosts to sample the product, so to speak.

The 3D printed pool features a hot tub for 8 people and a sloped beach entry that can be installed in or above ground. Features you’d find in a custom inground swimming pool Bedell explained the exciting aspect of 3D printing a swimming pool means “they can make it any shape they want.”

The Future of 3D Printed Swimming Pools

Home improvement expert Skip Bedell, explained that San Juans new 3d printed pools can be produced in a matter of days and are made from completely recyclable materials.

“So, when they’re done, they can put it through a plastic shredder and reuse those plastic pellets,” Bedell said, referencing the product’s end life and consumer disposal.

Bedell explained that San Juan Pools shift towards adapting massive printing technology stemmed from its partnership with an advanced manufacturing company called Alpha Additive. Bedell explained that no other pool manufacturer currently has the technology or machinery to create these pool products, which currently leaves them as the sole 3D printer of fiberglass pools in the industry.

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Coach Saves Swimmer Who Fainted At World Championships

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Coach Andrea Fuentes Saves Swimmer Anita Alvarez Who Fainted While Competing at World Championships in Budapest

‘Hero coach saves swimmer’ was the headline splashed all over the news today. After losing consciousness during the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, American swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued from drowning at the bottom of the pool by coach Andrea Fuentes.

On Wednesday, Fuentes dived into the water after seeing the 25-year-old artistic swimmer plummet to the bottom of the women’s solo free event.

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Coach Indicated Life Guards Slow To React

Andrea Fuentes, coach to two-time Olympian Anita Alvarez, told Spanish newspaper Marca that she dived in to haul the 25-year-old to the surface because no one else lifted a finger to do so.

“I jumped into the water because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was diving in,” she said.

The dramatic rescue unfolded when Ms Alvarez was participating in the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest on Wednesday night.

This wasn’t the first time that Fuentes has come to Alvarez’s rescue. During an Olympic qualification event last year, a similar incident occurred where Fuentes leaped into action to her and swim partner, Lindi Schroeder to safety.

Who is Andrea Fuentes?

Fuentes is a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming and the most decorated swimmer on the Spanish National Team. The world champion rescued Alvarez from the bottom of the pool and swam her to the surface before swimming her to safety at the edge of the pool.

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“I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine,” Fuentes told news sources.

Swimmers often hold their breath for long periods of time as a way to develop their lung capacity but never defy medical advice, according to their instructor, who explained that the occurrence was not out of the ordinary in the sport of swimming.

Fuentes became concerned when she observed Alvarez’s feet appeared paler than usual toward the end of her routine on Wednesday. While Alvarez was descending instead of ascending to take a breath, she dove in.

Coach saves swimmer after fainting in pool
Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Swim Coach Saves Swimmer, Quick To Respond To Distress

Fuentes remarked, “I was already paying attention, and then I saw her sliding down. In the end, “I didn’t even ask myself if I should go or not, I just thought that I was not going to wait.”
“I know Anita very well and I know the sport very well.” Fuentes replied when asked if she thought lifeguards were too slow to respond to the incident.

Coach Saves Swimmer – Says ‘I Did My Job’

Fuentes concluded by saying, “They did their job, I did mine,” The sport’s governing body, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), did not react to calls for comment on reaction speed of the rescue.

After what it called a “medical emergency.” FINA said in a statement on Thursday that it has been in contact with Alvarez, her teammates, and her medical personnel. In the words of the release, “Ms. Alvarez was immediately treated by a medical team in the venue and is in good health,”

Oli Scarff, the underwater photographer who used a remote robotic camera to capture the breathtaking images of the rescue, told reporters that he heard noise as he was looking at his computer toward the end of Alvarez’s routine. He observed the swimmer at the bottom of the pool on the screen of the robotic camera.

Hero swim coach Andrea Fuentes saves unconsious swimmer Anita Alvarez after she fainted in swim competition in Budapest
Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

According to the photographer, it was “It was kind of a shocking thing to see because as soon as I looked back down at the robotic camera I had this kind of clear view of the scene while everyone in the arena was watching it through the surface of the water,” as he put it.

At first Scarff was capturing “beautiful” images of a “amazing” athlete in action, only to find himself “in a heartbeat” photographing “a near-death situation.” “Actually, I was rather rattled up by the whole thing.

Swimmer Says She’s Ready To Compete on Friday

“The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc. All is fine,” Fuentes stated. Other high-endurance sports, such as running and cycling, also experience this.” Whether it’s a marathon, a bike race, or a cross-country race, we’ve all seen photographs of racers who didn’t make it to the finish line being helped by others. Swimming is just like any other activity in that we push ourselves to our limits and sometimes find them.”

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