In the UAE’s hot climate, there is nothing better than a ‘quick dip in the pool’. Whether a committed swimmer or a family looking for some pool-time fun, one needs assurance that the pool that is being used is hygienically clean!
Without stringent regulations and exceptional hygiene standards, swimming pools are hot beds of potential infection, especially in warm climates. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to pool water, usually within the first 15 minutes of entering. This can cause the presence of E. coli bacteria. Many recreational water illnesses (RWIs) can be caused by swallowing contaminated pool water, the most common being diarrhoea - others include cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, leptospirosis, legionellosis, bacterial and viral gastroenteritis.
In August this year, it was reported that half of all respiratory patients in an Abu Dhabi hospital were suffering from pneumonia with many catching the illness by swimming in warm, unhygienic pools. Swimmers are also open to catching other illnesses such as colds, influenza, allergic conditions, asthma, sinusitis and ear infections. The bugs causing these conditions thrive in hot, humid and wet conditions.
Swimming in a clean pool is the only way to prevent these infections. But how do you know that your pool is safe? The absence of an agreed international regulatory framework for pool and spa safety, combined with incomplete national regulations in many countries, puts local populations and visitors at potential risk, especially vulnerable groups like young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with immunodeficiency disorders.
Fortunately, in the UAE the vast majority of pool operators adhere to strict standards to ensure that their pools are kept safe and clean. Pools are also stringently controlled by the authorities to ensure user safety. Non-compliance with specified water quality standards can lead to pool closure. In Dubai, for example, the German DIN standard has been adopted by the municipality with all recreational water requiring the presence of an active biocide to prevent horizontal contamination between bathers within a time frame of 30 seconds.
While stringent standards of swimming pool control may already exist in the UAE, the technology used has hardly changed for over a century. Sand-based filtration systems, supported by the use of chlorine as a disinfectant, remain the most commonly used for ensuring that water is free of unhealthy bacteria.
The use of chlorine, however, can bring its own problems. Although an excellent disinfectant, chlorine reacts with organic and inorganic substances in the water to produce potentially harmful by-products such as trichloramine, which can result in sore eyes and lung damage. If one’s eyes are stinging or going red while swimming one must leave the pool immediately as the lungs are probably being damaged, too. Wearing goggles is not the answer.
Similarly, traditional sand filters are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. At Arpal Gulf, we have been working on a new, highly innovative range of water treatment products offering safe, more environmentally beneficial and cost effective solutions for public and private swimming pools. Our strategic partner in this venture is Dryden Aqua - a highly experienced marine biological company specialising in water quality and cutting-edge sustainable treatment technologies, based in Scotland.
The highly innovative company, set up by marine biologist Dr Howard Dryden, provides the cleanest possible water solutions using a filtration system made from tiny glass particles. As well as providing our children with clearer, cleaner, healthier water to swim in, the new product is being used to create clean, safe water around the world allowing dolphins to swim in the cleanest of environments and bringing disease-free drinking water to six million people in India.
Instead of using more and more powerful disinfectants and expensive equipment, the innovative new AFM® system uses a biological treatment process that makes it much more difficult for bacteria and parasites to live and reproduce in the water. Rather than trying to kill the bacteria, the system prevents them growing in the first place.
Full details of the new system, approved by Dubai Municipality, will be provided in a follow up blog post on the Clean Middle East website.
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