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STA POOL PLANT – DISPELLING MYTHS

Skin Irritations And Water Quality

In this issue, Luke Griffiths, fromSafety Training Awards, looks to dispel some of the myths surrounding skin irritations and water quality

W

ith pools re-opening and swimming lessons being back there will inevitably be some swimming teachers and swimmers suffering skin irritations and suspecting the pool to be the cause of the problem. Many swimming teachers often have little to no knowledge in pool plant operations but have their own theories on what the causes are and how to treat them. Although well intended, the theories are not always accurate or the best advice. Here STA’s Qualification Development Manager for Pool Plant’ Luke Griffiths takes a closer look.

BASIC CAUSES OF SKIN IRRITATIONS IN POOL WATER Skin irritations can be linked to swimming pools. However, there can be a range of causes and it can be difficult to identify if a skin irritation is due to water quality, the individual’s health or external factors such as cosmetic products or an environment away from the pool. Skin conditions which can be initiated and irritated by chlorinated / brominated water can stem from poor pool and plant maintenance and insufficient cleaning regimes. They may be caused by: 1. Chemical Pollution • pH – Skin is somewhat less sensitive to pH than eyes, but bathers with particularly sensitive skin will be affected if pH levels are not maintained within recommended levels. High pH can break down lipids / fats on the skin leaving hair follicles open to infection. Low pH can be aggressive to the skin. pH also has a huge influence on the effects of free chlorine, and at high levels will reduce the free chlorine’s effectiveness, thus increasing the chances of infection. • Free Chlorine – Low free chlorine levels can allow infectious pathogens to thrive. High free chlorine levels (they need to be very high, however) may affect those with sensitive skin. • Combined Chlorine – High combined chlorine levels are often mistaken by bathers as there being too much chlorine in the pool, but it is actually the disinfection by-product of using chlorine. Combined chlorine can cause skin irritations, irritation of the respiratory tract, eye irritation etc. • Cosmetic products, creams and ointments – In reference to some of the advice about what solutions there are to ease skin irritations – please do not use any creams before getting in the water as these can contribute to chemical pollution. Creams can also feed microorganisms, and in most cases can build up scum as well as increase TDS levels. Pre and post swim hygiene and showering should not be underestimated.

32 June 2021 SPN 32_SPN_June_2021_STA_Rev.indd 32

• Other chemicals – aluminium (flocculants), sulphates (pH control and flocculent chemicals), and bromine-based chemicals can cause irritation. 2. Biological Pollution Common examples of infection resulting from biological pollution are Pseudomonas, conjunctivitis, foot infections and viral infections. However, all of these are NOT easily transmitted in clean, well maintained, disinfected and treated pools. They most often occur as a result of poorly maintained facilities. Below are some examples of infections and how to prevent them in the pool environment: • Athlete’s foot is a ring worm infection which causes itchy scale between the toes. It is spread by contact with floor surfaces. Floor cleaning regimes reduce the chances of infection spreading. • Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium that can cause folliculitis, ear (Otitis externa – ‘swimmers’ ear’), eye and urinary tract infections. It can survive in pools with inadequate disinfection levels and on surfaces in biofilms. Its presence in pool or spa water and on swim equipment is usually indicative of poor cleaning practices. Physically cleaning and disinfecting is the best action for the removal of biofilms that may contain Pseudomonas aeruginosa. • Verrucas are spread through contact with surfaces contaminated by the papilloma virus. Floor cleaning regimes reduce the chances of the virus spreading. Those most likely to experience problems are bathers who spend lengthy amounts of time soaking in a spa, staff members (potentially by default swimming teachers) who wear wet bathing suits throughout their work shift, or bathers who swim regularly for extended periods of time.

VISIBLE INDICATORS There are often clear visible indicators of contaminated sites due to inadequate cleaning procedures (pool and changing rooms), for

There are often clear visible indicators of contaminated sites due to inadequate cleaning procedures (pool and changing rooms)...’’

example the state of the balance tank, a poor filtration system, the condition of the pool plant room and an incorrect water overflow system. Poor pre and post swim hygiene by bathers can also be a contributing factor.

SOLUTIONS • Monitor and record chemical levels at the recommended frequencies, ensuring readings are within recommended parameters, taking action if they fall outside of these. • If you have a skin condition, seek medical advice but do not apply creams etc. before getting in the water. • Good cleaning and housekeeping across all areas of the pool and changing rooms. • Regular microbiological testing by a UKAS accredited laboratory. Microbiological analysis of pool water must be performed on a regular basis, if not, a pool operator will probably be unaware of the contamination problem until bathers start complaining of infections, rashes or dermatitis. • Promote pre and post swim hygiene to bathers and staff (subject to a facility’s COVID procedures this could include showering at home). • Ensure all swimming equipment is thoroughly cleaned using diluted chlorinated water and stored to dry. STA’s Level 2 Awards in Swimming Pool Water Testing and Swimming Pool Water Treatment are designed to enable learners to understand the basic principles of the treatment and testing of swimming pool water. They could provide just enough information to help a swimming teacher or someone supporting the pool plant operator to understand the basic principles of the treatment of swimming pool water. With this knowledge, we can also start to dispel some of the myths on skin irritations, water quality and treatments. Safety Training Awards 01922 645097 www.safetytrainingawards.co.uk

www.swimmingpoolnews.co.uk 27/06/2021 12:40

Profile for Aqua Publishing Ltd

SPN (Swimming Pool News) June 2021  

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) June 2021  

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...

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