Earth & Conservation

US: 1 in 8 Swimming Pools Closed for Health Violations

One in eight swimming pools in five populous states are closed upon inspection due to dirty and potentially dangerous water, the CDC reported this week. Continue reading →

One in eight swimming pools in five populous states are closed upon inspection due to dirty and potentially dangerous water, U.S. health authorities said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report was based on data from nearly 50,000 pools, hot tubs and water parks in five states where such facilities are most popular - Florida, New York, Arizona, California and Texas.

"Most inspections of public aquatic venues (almost 80 percent) identified at least one violation," said the report.

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"One in eight inspections resulted in immediate closure because of serious health and safety violations," it added.

The report, based on data from 2013, said the parasite Cryptosporidium - which can cause diarrhea and vomiting - has emerged as the leading culprit in water-related outbreaks.

The highest number of closures came in kiddie pools, or wading pools, one in five of which were found to have serious violations.

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"The most common violations reported were related to improper pH (15 percent), safety equipment (13 percent), and disinfectant concentration (12 percent)," said the report. Water's pH level indicates how acidic or basic it is.

"Almost one third of local health departments do not regulate, inspect or license public pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program.

"We should all check for inspection results online or on site before using public pools, hot tubs or water playgrounds and do our own inspection before getting into the water," she said.

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According to Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, the "results of the study clearly show that more work needs to be done to better safeguard the public at large."

Glatter, who was not involved in the report, said people should never swim if they have diarrhea.

"When close to 80 percent of public swimming venues are cited for at least one violation, it's time to wake up and pay attention," said Glatter.

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"Consider bringing a test kit to check the pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration of the water if you are visiting a ‎public or private pool or hot tub, since this is an important determinant of the general health of the water, and also reflects the ability to prevent the spread of infectious disease."

It might sound a bit cramped, but there's an entire world of organisms that can call a drop of water their home. And, up close, they look practically out-of-this-world. Each year, the Nikon Small World competition sets out to collect some of the best microphotography. Take a look at some of this year's most stunning images of creatures that live in water. This photo from Dr. Jan Michels of Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in Kiel, Germany shows Temora longicornis, a marine copepod, from its ventral view at 10 times magnification.

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This microphotograph shows the diatom Melosira moniliformis at 320 times its size.

This algae biofilm photographed up-close makes what's usually referred to as "pond scum" look like art.

This Philodina roseola rotifer was alive and well when this microphotograph was taken.

This microphoto shows a water flea flanked by green algae.

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Warfare in a water droplet! This microphoto shows a Hydra capturing a water flea at 40-times magnification.

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One of the ultimate human pests -- the mosquito -- begins life as larvae, here shown suspended in a single droplet of water.

Ever wonder what sex between two freshwater ciliates looks like magnified at 630 times its actual size? Now you know!

This freshwater water flea is shown at 100 times its actual size.

Closterium lunula, a kind of green alga, is shown here. This particular specimen came from a bog pond, according to the photographer.

While it may resemble a visitor from outer space, this is what a zebrafish embryo looks like under a microscope, three days after being fertilized.

This microscopic crustacean appears yellowish-orange because it is mounted in Canada Balsam with crystals and other artifacts.

A white-spotted bamboo shark's embryonic pectoral fin makes for a stunning image under a microscope.

SEE MORE PHOTOS: It's a Nikon Small World After All