Poop in the pool

EskimoPie

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Jul 27, 2007
278
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Sahuarita, AZ
#1
Sorry if anyone finds the title offensive, but I think it's a topic that should be discussed.

This is probably going to be a long rant for me so I'll apologize in advance and try to give some background.

I live in a master-planned community that has tons of neighborhood amenities. One of the best is our large clubhouse area which has a large water park with 5 separate swimming areas. The first is a large normal swimming pool. Then there is a smaller pool used as a collection for 3 full-sized water slides. There's a large knee-deep slash/spray park with a large play structure and tons of spraying/dumping/splashing water. There's a smaller toddler sized splash/spray pool, and finally a toddler wading pool. It's a really neat place. You can see some pictures of it here.

The problem is that over the past few years as the community has grown rapidly, the water park gets busier and busier with more and more kids. There has been an epidemic of 'incidents' in the pools in which someone (generally small kids) poops/vomits/pees in the pool and they shut it down and shock for 8 hours. It's gotten so bad that it seems like one or all of the pools are constantly closed. It's very frustrating as a resident. It's also one of the main reasons we put in our own pool in our yard.

All young children under 3 are required to wear swim diapers but it doesn't seem to help. This summer the clubhouse has implemented a new policy of a 10 minute 'rest period' every hour. Once per hour the life guards will blow the whistle and everybody has to get out of every body of water for 10 minutes. I think they're expecting this time to be used for kids to go to the bathroom or diapers to be changed but I think it's a RIDICULOUS policy. There's only 3 bathrooms in the clubhouse I believe, so they will just be swamped. Not to mention how do you explain to your 2 year old that they have to get out and stop playing for 10 minutes and just stand there and stare at all the fun stuff right in front of them. I think it's going to be a disaster... kids will be screaming, parents will be frustrated, and I can't imagine it'll solve the problem.

My question is, how do other public pools handle this? I've been to water parks, public pools, wave pools, etc that don't have such mandatory breaks, and I'm sure they have more kids in the water than our park. How are they handling accidents? Do big places like that have some sort of SUPER DUPER sanitization systems that negate the danger of bacteria and stuff in the water or is normal pool chemistry with 2.0-4.0 FC (their standards) in the water totally enough to protect other swimmers from getting sick (assuming the offending substance gets removed quickly)? I can't imagine a large water park or other business surviving if they shut down for 8 hours to shock whenever they found a 'snicker bar' floating in the water. Or are those places just dangerous filthy cesspools of bacteria filled water?

Please help... I've been venting to the clubhouse about what I consider to be a ridiculous solution to the problem, but I can't think of a better one. Is it better just to scoop out the poop and keep on swimming? Is 8 hours of shock ridiculous? What sort of extra equipment could eliminate the problem?

Thanks!!!
 

JohnT

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Apr 4, 2007
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SW Indiana
#3
There is really no good answer. Most experts are coming to the conclusion that there is no safe way for children that aren't toilet trained to use a pool. Swim diapers don't seem to be effective. The more I learn about pools, the less appealing public pools are to me. There is no solution that is going to be popular. The only thing that is workable is the mandated breaks and meticulous sanitizer control in the water.
 

EskimoPie

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Jul 27, 2007
278
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Sahuarita, AZ
#4
So what about for our own personal pools too? I have two small boys (1 and 2) who love spending time in our pool. We always have swim diapers on them but what should we do if we notice one of them has 'dropped the kids off at the pool' (pun TOTALLY intended) so to speak? Should we evacuate the pool and shock? I always maintain very good chemistry and with a SWCG I've never had any CC and never needed to shock (at least in the 9 moths the pool's been built).

What do all you folks do if you find a kid has had an accident? I feel somewhat timid admitting the 1 or 2 times I've noticed a dirty diaper we just changed the diaper and got back into the pool, counting on the FC to keep us safe. Is that a horrible thing to do?
 

JohnT

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Apr 4, 2007
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SW Indiana
#5
If the kids have been sick, you should probably not allow them to swim, but you are probably already going to be exposed to whatever they've got. In a public or semi-public pool, you can't tell whether there are sick kids in there, so the risks are higher.
 

chem geek

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Mar 28, 2007
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San Rafael, CA USA
#6
If it were not for the protozoan cysts of Giardia and especially Cryptosporidium, there wouldn't be a huge issue since most bacteria and viruses are killed very quickly with chlorine. You can see from this PDF file with the CDC recommendations for handling a fecal accident that it's the protozoan cysts (parasites) that are the main problem (the Hepatitis virus isn't great either). It is assumed that in a formed stool there might be some Giardia released so the pool is closed and the chlorine elevated for around 30 minutes. Note that the shock level is 2 ppm FC for 25 minutes without CYA. If there is 30 ppm CYA, then you'd need to raise the FC to 20 ppm to get the same effect!

If the stool is loose, that is if there is diarrhea, then you're toast because the CDC assumes their might be some Crypto. The FC is to be raised to 20 ppm for about 13 hours, but again that's without CYA. With CYA there is nothing you can do in terms of using chlorine, according to the CDC. That's actually not true, but it's not easy. With 30 ppm CYA, you'd have to raise the FC to around 50 ppm for the same disinfection.

I believe some other method of disinfection should be done for these fecal accidents (especially for diarrhea) such as using chlorine dioxide (which inactivates even Crypto fairly quickly) possibly generated by adding sodium chlorite to the water, but I haven't been able to get the folks at the CDC nor others to look into it, though I have asked.

I should note that Giardia and Crypto are not organisms that we normally carry around. They are parasites that we get from others (mostly via the fecal-to-oral route which is why swimming pools and other bodies of water are of concern). So if someone is sick, especially with an intestinal illness, they should stay out of pools.

Richard
 

EskimoPie

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Jul 27, 2007
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Sahuarita, AZ
#8
Chem Geek, thanks for the CDC link... I'm surprised they don't mention any change in the effectivity of chlorine based on CYA levels. Does the CDC not acknowledge this?

The PDF had the effect though of making me pretty scared of large public pools... kids and diarrhea go hand in hand and since it's likely not to be even noticed I'd say the odds of having some nasty bugs in a public pool are pretty good! Yuck.
 

chem geek

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Mar 28, 2007
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San Rafael, CA USA
#9
Most bugs from kids will get killed in a properly chlorinated pool. It's really only Crypto and Giardia that are the public pool problems and if you look at pool closures and recreational water illness reports you'll find that these are pretty much the only ones that show up in properly chlorinated pools. Improperly chlorinated pools have more incidents of things like adenoviruses. Most people with diarrhea do not have Giardia or Crypto; the CDC is just playing it safe since 1) chlorine is not effective against Crypto, 2) it can therefore infect dozens if not hundreds of people swimming in the pool, 3) it takes a relatively small number of oocysts to become infected, 4) diarrhea puts out an incredible number of oocysts from a person infected with Crypto, and 5) symptoms are delayed so usually a week or more goes by before an outbreak is seen and a pool shut down.

The CDC is well aware of chlorine's lower effectiveness in the presence of CYA. It's in many, many published scientific reports. I've also written to them in the past. They did say in the PDF file

State or local regulators may require higher chlorine levels in the presence of chlorine stabilizers, which are known to slow disinfecton.
:
Laboratory studies indicate that this level of Crypto inactivation cannot be reached in the presence of 50 ppm chlorine stabilizer,†** even after 24 hours at 40 ppm free chlorine, pH 6.5 at a temperature of about 77°F (25°C).


which basically says that 40 ppm FC with 50 ppm CYA has an effective FC with no CYA of less than 15,300/24/60 = 10 and in fact at a pH of 6.5 the 40 ppm FC with 50 ppm CYA is equivalent to only 2.6 ppm FC with no CYA.

What they may not know is the rough rule of thumb that the FC/CYA ratio approximates the chlorine effectiveness, but that rule only works well when that ratio is 0.2 or less (i.e. when the CYA is 5 times or more higher than the FC). In fact, when FC > CYA and the FC-CYA difference is greater than 10, then the rough rule of thumb is that the FC-CYA difference approximates the chlorine effectiveness.

As for prevention, there's not much that can be done in the bulk pool water (the chlorine dioxide I talked about breaks down in sunlight), but UV systems can be used to at least inactivate the oocysts via circulation. However, it takes 4.6 turnovers to pass 99% of the water through the filtration system and that's theoretical assuming perfect mixing and circulation. Nevertheless, this would limit the number of people who could become infected.

The way I see it, the Trichlor/Dichlor manufacturers/distributors don't want the info on FC/CYA generally known since they'd just as soon everyone use their products and not worry about CYA while the CDC would just as soon ban CYA entirely if they could due to their fear of Crypto in public pools. Neither side is taking the middle approach which would recognize the importance of some small amount of CYA on the one hand while using other methods to handle the Crypto problem. It's been frustrating for me, but I'm still plugging away at trying to get these folks to work together. Environmental health professionals around the country are frustrated by this (at least the ones I've communicated with).

Richard
 
G
#10
when i was 10 we swam in the local water hole that kids peed in and i think sewage was dumped in, mind you this was 50 years ago, sometimes we got sick, but hey, still had the best fun a 10 year old could have, and still swam there every hot day in texas , still alive today. just kinda pointing out that sometimes were too carful. :wink:
 

lovingHDTV

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May 26, 2007
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Round Rock, TX
#12
Rollin Thunder said:
when i was 10 we swam in the local water hole that kids peed in and i think sewage was dumped in, mind you this was 50 years ago, sometimes we got sick, but hey, still had the best fun a 10 year old could have, and still swam there every hot day in texas , still alive today. just kinda pointing out that sometimes were too carful. :wink:
Now THAT explains a lot! :lol:
 

whoozer

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Apr 2, 2008
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Acton Maine
#13
I work in the medical field and have seen what some of these nasty bugs can do first hand. That is why I DO NOT use public pools as well as go to water parks yuck! Just think of one of those kids pooing in the pool then you come along and use it for mouthwash :oops: I was at Busch Gardens once in their big outside playpen and I looked up to a 3 year old urinating in the net climb. I told 4 people on staff and they just ignored me!!!!
 

EskimoPie

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Jul 27, 2007
278
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Sahuarita, AZ
#14
Well my Pool package included an ozone generator. It's some sort of UV light which somehow creates ozone from what I understand and injects small bubbles of it into suction side of the pump. I've always considered it next to useless and had even considered unplugging it... until now that is.

Since with my SWCG I never have any CC so I never shock my pool... I maintain about 4ppm of FC with about 70ppm CYA. It sounds like the really nasty bugs which could be introduced into the water by my 1 and 2 year olds would never get destroyed with this water chemistry.

From what I understand about the ozone generator, it's really only effective in the plumbing itself, once the water is returned back into the pool the ozone dissipates too fast (is that right?) But assuming I'm getting 1-2 turn overs a day can I feel confident that the ozone generator would kill all the nasty stuff like Crypto?
 

JasonLion

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May 7, 2007
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Silver Spring, MD
#15
Ozone is a trade off. Ozone and chlorine destroy each other, so adding an ozone system will increase chlorine consumption. Ozone can be effective at killing things that chlorine is not effective on, but only if they pass through the plumbing and go past the ozone injector. The ozone is not effective on the bulk of the pool water except with rather long time lags (ie it can take a long time before any particular bit of water goes through the pump).
 

EskimoPie

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Jul 27, 2007
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Sahuarita, AZ
#16
Thanks Jason, I've seen also those tradeoffs... I maintain about 4ppm chlorine with only a 30% setting 8 hours a day on my IC20 SWCG so I'm thinking the ozone isn't really destroying all that much chlorine, or my ozone generator isn't working all that great.

What I'm really wondering though is how effective the ozone is on killing the nasty bugs like Crypto. Assuming all pool water makes it through the plumbing once per day, can I safely assume no Crypto will survive more than a day in my pool?
 

257WbyMag

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Feb 23, 2008
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Denton, TX
#17
I wouldn't worry too much about these bugs guys. Since it isn't feasible for any of us to sterilize our pool (sterilization being the ONLY way to kill everything down to spores), simply shock the pool when you see poop or anything else that makes you suspicious and maintain filtration systems in good working order. Otherwise, simply keep sanitizer levels where they should be and you should have few problems.

With regard to giardiasis, I can count one one hand in almost twelve years of being an ICU and ER nurse, the number of cases of this that I have seen and I don't believe that any of them were exposed in swimming pools. The reason most people get this is when they are exposed to it in lakes and streams by oral consumption of the water. As for crypto, it is more common and most kiddos get this in day care and nursery school environments. In addition, despite how kids love to swim at all costs, I would doubt that any of them would feel much like getting in the pool when stricken with either of these illnesses.

A little knowledge about how to keep well and safe is a good thing but it can consume you if you overthink it. If you read all of the CDC's literature, you would never leave your house for fear of infection. Similarly, if you read the drug profiles of all the drugs in the PDR, you would probably be very hesitant to take medicines of any sort. Just keep the pool correctly and use common sense. Enjoy your pool!

Craig
 

matj6876

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Jul 28, 2007
105
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DFW, TX
#19
257 - Your post could not have been more timely. Less than an hour after you posted, my 2.5 yr old decided he was having way too much fun in the pool to get out for a potty break. So here I am 300oz of Bleach later with a pool on the way to be de-pooped!

Question - If my CYA is 50 how far do I have to let the FC drop before swimming?