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Dirty Pools Are A Danger To People’s Health Following the UK’s largest outbreak of the water-borne parasitic disease giardiasis at a swim school in York, Robbie Phillips, Pool Plant Consultant for STA, offers his expert advice on the topic and highlights the issues surrounding inadequate pool management, the risks to people’s health and why chlorination and filtration is so important


s evidenced in North Yorkshire, in addition to many more studies in the UK and US where outbreaks of giardiasis have occurred in swimming pools, the main factors are nearly always associated with filtration and both inadequate chlorination and monitoring of chlorine levels. Basically, inadequate pool management, dirty pools – operators not having the right systems and procedures in place to ensure the pool is cleaned and sterilised properly. This might be due to a combination of lack of knowledge, training or sheer ignorance – but this ignorance leads to dangerous situations. There is no excuse – ‘ignorance is no defence’. In my professional opinion, and having worked in the industry for more than 40 years (where I’ve seen the good and the bad) all pool plant operators (swimming pool owners) should be trained in: • Principles of healthy and hygienic pool water: The different types of pools, their users and uses. How to assist in maintaining healthy and hygienic pool water through bather hygiene and cleanliness in the pool environment. • Principles of water testing: The skills and knowledge to carry out regular water tests. Understand the variety of tests required, how to record the results and what actions to take for different results. • Principles of disinfection, pool chemistry and dosing in pool plant operations: Understanding of disinfection – both residual (primary) and non-residual (secondary). Pool chemistry such as breakpoint chlorination, the importance of pH in the disinfection process. The different chemicals used in pools and what role they play. The key principles in terms of dosing and dosing requirements of the different chemicals. • Principles of mechanical pool plant operations: The design considerations

and key features in the pool plant system. Circulation and working out maximum bather load, operational daily maximum bather load, circulation rate and turnover. Filtration features, the different parts of a filter and the importance of flocculation / coagulation. Backwashing requirements and the importance of dilution. Temperature recommendations for different pools and uses. • Swimming pool heating, ventilation and energy efficiency: The principles of heating and air circulation, the different systems to run an economic, energy efficient and effective pool plant. • Management practices and health and safety in pool plant operations: Management practices such as pool safety operating procedures (PSOPs) and training requirements. How to work safely with chemicals – risk assessments, control measures, personal protective equipment. Understanding of health & safety legislation / regulation operators should be aware of. Also, the maintenance procedures and timelines for effective operation of pool plant equipment. Ultimately, all of the information required to operate safe, hygienic and efficient pool facilities. Equally, if you are a swim school that is hiring a pool, we would also recommend basic pool plant training because it’s your reputation and business on the line. It is a fallacy to believe that the smaller the pool the less critical knowledge required. Busy swim schools based in small pools must be managed to the same national recommedations. Even if the pool plant and water quality is being managed by other parties you should always check basic critical parameters. Find out more about the training opportunities at, including

Even if the pool plant and water quality is being managed by other parties you should always check basic critical parameters” 50 April 2019 SPN 50_SPN_April_19_STA_Rev.indd 50

details on the Level 3 Award in Pool Plant Operations which is the only qualification that currently meets CIMSPA’s new Pool Plant Operative Professional Standard, and to receive professional endorsement by the sector’s single chartered professional body. We all recognise that there is an inherent list of accepted risks involved with swimming pools, but as we keep saying, they can only be addressed by maintaining a well-managed plant and by ensuring correct procedures are followed by trained operators. After all, once the doors are opened to bathers, the pool owner and operator have a legal duty to provide a safe hygienic environment. And, if we take the swim school example in Yorkshire where 165 swimmers contracted giardiasis, we sadly only find out about the mis-management when something has gone wrong – after the event, when it is too late. STA 01922 645097


Giardia are protozoan parasites that causes acute gastroenteritis, often which lasts up to two weeks; however, there are known cases that have lasted even longer. Chronic, long term infection with Giardia can also occur. Cryptosporidium and Giardia are single celled organisms (protozoans) that inhabit the human gut where they thrive and multiply. Part of their life cycle involves the formation of dormant eggs (known as Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts) and they have a protective shell which importantly are resistant to free chlorie (disinfectant). These oocysts are the mechanism for the transmission from one human host to another. The main symptoms are watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, with flatulence and ‘eggy burps’. The net result is that any one suspected or confirmed as being infected should not swim until the infection has been eliminated. 26/03/2019 15:12

Profile for Aqua Publishing Ltd

SPN (Swimming Pool News) April 2019  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...

SPN (Swimming Pool News) April 2019  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...