Jamaica Gleaner

Dan­ger­ous dips

Na­tional Sta­dium pool among many ex­pos­ing Ja­maicans to germs

- See full story at www.ja­maica-gleaner.com. Na­dine Wil­son-Harris Staff Re­porter

THOU­SANDS OF Ja­maicans are swimming in public pools, at schools, clubs and even the Na­tional Sta­dium, which have not been ap­proved by the Min­istry of Health.

The lack of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion means that swim­mers could be ex­posed to many types of bac­te­ria which can sur­vive quite hap­pily in pools and cir­cu­late among dif­fer­ent users to spread ill­ness.

At the last check, only seven of the 37 public pools now op­er­at­ing in Kingston, St An­drew and St Cather­ine have been cer­ti­fied as safe by the Min­istry of Health.

Swimming in chlo­ri­nated pools, par­tic­u­larly in­door pools, might put chil­dren and even adults at higher risk for de­vel­op­ing res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses, in­clud­ing asthma and hay fever.

CAN­CER RISK

In ad­di­tion, there is ev­i­dence that dis­in­fec­tant by-prod­ucts – formed when chlo­ri­nated wa­ter is mixed with micro­organ­isms, hu­man body flu­ids, cos­met­ics, and sun­screen – can dam­age per­sons’ DNA and in­crease their risk of can­cer.

Emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cian and na­tional co­or­di­na­tor for the Ja­maica Life Sav­ing So­ci­ety, Nor­man Fraser, raised the dan­gers of swimming in pools not given a clean bill of health by the health min­istry re­cently.

Ac­cord­ing to Fraser, checks he made last year with the Public Health Depart­ment re­vealed the alarm­ing fig­ure about the high num­ber of public pools not cer­ti­fied.

“I have iden­ti­fied be­tween St Cather­ine and Kingston and St An­drew as many as 37 pools that peo­ple use with only seven cer­ti­fied,” said Fraser.

The pool at the Na­tional Sta­dium (In­de­pen­dence Park), where thou­sands of per­sons swim each year, is one of those yet to be cer­ti­fied.

When con­tacted, Ray­mond Hall, the fa­cil­i­ties man­ager for the Am­a­teur Swimming As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica, ad­mit­ted that they are still try­ing to sat­isfy the re­quire­ments to get a per­mit from the Min­istry of Health.

“From time to time, you might have things on a work plan that they give you, and you might cor­rect some and you might have some work­ing, but af­ter­wards, some other ones come up and you have to just deal with them,” said Hall.

Un­der the Public Health (Swimming Pools) Reg­u­la­tion, swimming pools open to the public, or those op­er­ated at a ho­tel hav­ing more than 100 rooms for the use of its guests, must have a valid per­mit is­sued by the med­i­cal of­fi­cer. These per­mits should be dis­played in a con­spic­u­ous lo­ca­tion on the premises.

The act also stip­u­lates that no­body should op­er­ate a public swimming pool un­less they have ob­tained a sup­ply of chem­i­cals and test­ing de­vices that are suf­fi­cient to op­er­ate the pool; writ­ten emer­gency and stan­dard op­er­a­tional and us­age pro­ce­dures; ap­pro­pri­ate emer­gency equip­ment; ad­e­quate per­sonal li­a­bil­ity and ac­ci­dent in­sur­ance; and the ser­vices of trained life­guards who are li­censed by the Na­tional Re­sources Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity.

Fraser is en­cour­ag­ing par­ents to be more in­quis­i­tive and ask pool op­er­a­tors to show their per­mits be­fore they pay for swimming lessons. There are cur­rently sev­eral schools of­fer­ing chil­dren swimming lessons at a cost to par­ents, ei­ther at swimming pools op­er­ated on the school com­pound or at other fa­cil­i­ties.

 ?? FILE ?? Scores of chil­dren learn to swim at the Na­tional Sta­dium swimming pool, which has not been cer­ti­fied by the Min­istry of Health.
FILE Scores of chil­dren learn to swim at the Na­tional Sta­dium swimming pool, which has not been cer­ti­fied by the Min­istry of Health.

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