Looking for a way to cool down in the scorching summer heat?

Before you dip into the community pool, consider this: About 58 percent of pool filters tested in a recent study were positive for E. coli – a marker for fecal contamination.

That indicates swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a “fecal incident” in the water or when feces rinse off their bodies in the pool because they didn’t shower thoroughly before getting into the water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the study, the CDC tested water samples from public pools in Atlanta during the 2012 summer swim season. In addition to the E. coli, about 59 percent of samples had another bacteria, pseudomonas aeruginosa, that can cause skin rashes and ear infections.

Want more proof people do gross things in public pools?

The Water Quality & Health Council conducted a survey of American adults in April 2012. In the study, 19 percent of adults admit to peeing in a public swimming pool and 43 percent said they skip the shower before hopping in the pool.

Here are more survey findings:

-11 percent admit to swimming with a runny nose

-8 percent said they swim with an exposed rash or cut

-6 percent swim when sick with a cold

And here’s an interesting comparison made by the council: About 93 percent of Americans said they would never re-use someone else’s bath water but 44 percent said they don’t believe it’s necessary to shower before getting in a pool.

The CDC offers some good advice (common sense?) for swimmers:

-Do not swim when you have diarrhea.

-Shower with soap before swimming.

-Wash your hands with soap after using the toilet or changing diapers.

But the best piece of CDC advice? Don’t swallow the water you swim in.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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