Knox County Tennessee

Clean it up, Swimmers

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With school out and warmer temperatures in, swim season has arrived. In the United States, millions of Americans will take to the water this year for a wide variety of fun. And that’s awesome, as swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life.

However, it’s important to be aware of ways to prevent illness. Pools are great for exercise, having fun, or just relaxing, but pools can also spread diarrhea and other illnesses. Germs don’t jump into the water like we do. They surf in on people’s bodies.

Well-maintained pools use chlorine. And while these chemicals kill most germs within minutes, some live on for days. Chemicals also break down pee, poop, sweat, dirt and other gunk from swimmer’s bodies, but this uses up the chemicals, leaving less available to kill germs.

Smell that “chlorine?”

It’s actually chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with the gunk. These chemicals, not chlorine, make your eyes red and sting, your nose run, and make you cough.

How do we carry germs into the pool? Through microbes. Microbes are tiny living organisms. Some microbes are germs that can make you sick.

What are you bringing into the pool besides a splash?

Here are the microbes and gunk the average swimmer can bring into the pool:

  • Hair (10 million microbes)
  • Spit (8 million microbes in a single drop)
  • Hands (5 million microbes)
  • Poop (140 billion microbes)
  • Nose, mouth, skin (billions of microbes)
  • Sweat (1 or 2 soda cans of microbes)
  • Pee (1 cup of microbes)

Now, think about how much of that same water you swallow in 45 minutes of swimming:

  • Adults: 1 tablespoon
  • Kids: 2 ½ tablespoons

That’s more than enough to make you sick. Keep germs out of the water and water out of your mouth.

You can follow these 4 steps for healthier swimming:

  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea
  • Shower before you get into the water
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water
  • Don’t swallow the water

Click HERE to see an illustration of how pools can spread diarrhea and other illnesses.

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Knox County Tennessee - Health Department

Main Clinic
140 Dameron Ave,
Knoxville, TN 37917

Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Please Note:

On the first Wednesday of every month (except August), all KCHD offices and clinics are closed in the morning for staff in-service. On these days, the main location (140 Dameron Ave.) will open at 11 a.m. and the West Clinic (1028 Old Cedar Bluff) will open at 11:30 a.m.
Clinics will also open at 10 a.m. (Main location), and 10:30 a.m. (West Clinic) on the following Wednesdays:
  • January 18
  • April 19
  • July 19
  • September 20

*All other offices will open at 8 a.m.

Infant and childhood immunizations as well as adult vaccines by appointment ONLY. Please call 865-215-5950.

1028 Old Cedar Bluff
Knoxville, TN 37923

Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Clinics will also open at 10 a.m. (Main location), and 10:30 a.m. (West Clinic) on the following Wednesdays:
  • January 18
  • April 19
  • July 19
  • September 20

Map Of All Clinics
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