What’s in pool water could make you sick

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A cool dip in the pool sounds refreshing,  but there are some things that should be done before you ever get in.

Pool play is all about fun no worries.
But you might want to think before you take your next dip.
Most people rarely do.

"I think it's in the back of all of our minds. But the spur of the moment if you have kids and they want to jump in the water and it's hot, you are pretty much gonna let them jump in," says mom Yolanda Morrison. She  thinks about it whenever her son Wyatt wants to take a dip.

The 11-year-old loves to wade and to swim when it gets hot, but he also thinks about the water he steps in.

"People could like pee in the water and you could get in it and go under it and people peed there. A lot of bacteria and stuff," says Wyatt.

What's in pool water can put a real damper on your fun.
Bacteria, e-coli, urine are just some of the worries.

A new test can now actually measure how much urine is in pools.
Canadian researchers found high volumes, more than you might think.

The CDC says health hazards have forced the closure of thousands of pools and hot tubs across the country.

It recently happened here in Memphis at The Guest House at Graceland Hotel over reports of Legionnaires Disease.
The aquatic area was closed.

"We inspect those pools monthly beginning at Memorial Day and going through Labor Day," says Alis Haushalter with the Shelby County Health Department.

Shelby County Health Department officials couldn't go into the specifics of what happened at The Guest House at Graceland.

But they say pools in Memphis and Shelby County are tested regularly during summer months, particularly for chlorine, used to kill bacteria and germs.

"We don't test to see if there is the urine in the pool at all. We do test chlorine and the P-H which are those things that do protect against the bacteria that may enter the water from urine.  We have to be realistic that bacteria can also enter the pool from other sources.  Open sores-if someone has used the restroom and not washed their hands afterward or from a child that didn't have the appropriate swim wear on or the appropriate diaper on," says Haushalter.

They allowed WREG cameras to go along as they tested a pool at an apartment complex in East Memphis.

"We do use chemical agents that are on strips. What we are doing is comparing the color of those strips. We are also looking at the actual water in the pool," says Haushalter.

They are looking for the chlorine level as well as the P-H level that helps kill germs.

If there is a problem, they know it immediately.
High levels of bacteria can actually lead to infectious diseases.

"That ranges from respiratory diseases to skin diseases as well. It clearly is a risk to the public," says Haushalter.

It can be a problem especially to those with weakened immune systems.

So what can you do?

Don't swallow pool water
Shower before you swim
Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper and make sure small kids take bathroom breaks

"In addition to not urinating in the pool, it is also important if they have open wounds anywhere not to swim in the pool," says Haushalter. "Don't underestimate the impact that it may have on others. "

So when you leave the pool,  the fun times are all you take home.

The Health Department says every year a pool has to be tested before it is opened.
That is usually around Memorial Day.
Then it is tested monthly thereafter until the pool closes, around Labor Day.
They don't test home pools, but there are test kits homeowners can purchase from pool supply stores.
Pool cleaning companies, that perform pool maintenance, may do testing as well.

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