There's poop in nearly 60 percent of public pools, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the public pools tested, CDC researchers found that 58 percent of them contained E. coli, bacteria typically found in the human gut and feces. They also found genetic material from bacteria called pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause skin rashes and ear infections, in 59 percent of pools, though it may have come from the natural environment, researchers said.
"It is time to stop treating the swimming pool as a toilet,"
Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program, told NBC News. "Nowhere else is it acceptable to poop in public or pee in public. In other places if we did this in public, we'd be arrested. Chlorine and other disinfectants don't kill germs instantly."
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The tests were conducted in 161 public pools in the Atlanta area last summer. Though the findings may not apply to all pools nationally, the CDC said there is no reason to think that contamination and swimmer hygiene practices differ dramatically in other regions.
"We don't know how it got in there. It either washed off somebody’s body or somebody had a bowel movement in the pool," Hlavsa said. "The average person has about .14 grams of feces on their rear end. If that rinses off into the water, the amount from one person might not be that much. But as more and more swimmers introduce it that much, it does become an issue.
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"Let's imagine 1,000 kids go to a water park. They have as much as 10 grams of feces on their rear ends," she said. "We are now talking about 10,000 grams or 10 kg. That translates to 24 pounds of poop in the water."
To combat the problem, the CDC recommends taking small children on regular bathroom breaks and showering before swimming.
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