There is no doubt about the benefits to health gained from regular swimming at all ages, the effectiveness of hydrotherapy in treating some illnesses and disabilities, or the enjoyment gained from simply soaking in a spa pool after a hard day at work. These all involve the use of man-made facilities shared with others. The need for water treatment in artificial pools has long been recognised to prevent the transmission of disease. In recent years new risks have been recognised or postulated and the safety of some traditional pool treatments have been questioned. At the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) conference on Health and Hygiene in Pools speakers of international repute covered a wide range of aspects of pool risks, good design, water treatment, management and training of pool operators.
To protect the public health there is a necessity for: good pool design; understanding the interactions between users, water quality, air quality and energy use; good management and treatment; and learning lessons from outbreaks and microbiological and chemical incidents. These aspects were covered in posters presented at the conference whose abstracts are presented below.
Establishment of an experimental water distribution system to investigate control mechanisms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in water system tap assemblies Between December 2011 and early 2012 four neonates died as a result of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteraemia in neonatal wards in Northern Ireland. The infection or colonisation of babies in the neonatal units was associated with several different strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa which could also be found in water samples taken from the neonatal ward hand wash basins, and from samples taken from the dismantled tap components. In addition, there was extensive biofilm build-up on several of the tap components, particularly the flow straighteners.
Consequently, the Health Protection Agency is investigating the environmental conditions which promote the establishment, persistence and removal of P. aeruginosa biofilms from tap components. An Experimental Water Distribution System (EWDS) has been constructed that comprises 27 individual taps, each of which can be isolated one from another and fitted with a range of flow straighteners. Each tap has an access point to allow artificial seeding with P. aeruginosa. The EWDS has been constructed to enable representative taps (n=27) and flow straighteners (n=3) to be dismantled periodically into its component parts for assessing total aerobic and P. aeruginosa burden, using non-selective and selective agars. Selected tap components can also be subject to epi-fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy to visualise biofilm formation.
The data will provide insight into factors which influence build-up of biofilms, including ways in which they can be controlled. The findings may also provide useful information for those who design, build, manage and operate water systems, and associated equipment in clinical environments.
Katy-Anne Thompson,1 Thomas Pottage,1 Simon Parks,1 Sara Speight,1 Allan Bennett1 and Jimmy Walker1
1Bioresponse Lead, Health Protection Agency, Biosafety, Porton Down, UK, SP4 0JG
Developing swimming pool guidance: identification of key interactions
The generation of effective guidance for the sustainable design and operation of swimming pools requires a broad spectrum of aspects to be considered. These aspects include the physical, microbial, and chemical interactions between the bathers and the pool environment as well as the effects of treatment and operational options on energy and resource use. The depth of knowledge on which publishers of guidance can draw has been developing over the past few decades, however a significant proportion of guidance is currently based on historic anecdotal evidence.
A review of current standards and guidance published in the UK identified a number of key aspects of pool design and operation that required a greater understanding to be developed. …