Bathing waters include beaches, lakes, rivers and artificial pools such as indoor and outdoor pools and spas. Bathing waters can be contaminated by microorganisms (blue-green algae and other bacteria, viruses, parasites) or other pollutants. People can also contaminate bathing waters with their secretions, urine, feces or products such as sunscreen.
Chlorine is used for disinfection of water in pools and spas to prevent contamination with disease-causing microorganisms. However, chlorine can react with organic matter in water to produce toxic substances called ‘chloramines’. These chloramines spread in the air and give the characteristic chlorine smell of indoor pools. Chloramines can also cause irritation of the respiratory tract.
Bathing in contaminated water can cause certain health problems:
In most cases, health problems associated with bathing waters appear 24 to 48 hours after contact with contaminated water.
The following are signs and symptoms of some of these health problems:
Most often, you do not need to see a doctor because most of health problems associated with bathing waters heal themselves without treatment.
However, if you have symptoms that persist or worsen, call Info-Santé 811 or see a doctor. Mention that you bathed, and specify where.
Most health problems associated with bathing waters do not require treatment.
Legionellosis must however be treated with antibiotics.
Most health problems associated with bathing waters do not result in complications.
Legionnaires' disease can, however, result in the following complications:
Legionnaires' disease can also cause death in 10 to 15% of cases, depending on the age and health condition of people who catch it.
People with a weakened immune system are more at risk of experiencing complications following a health problem associated with bathing waters.
Health problems associated with bathing waters appear especially when a person swallows contaminated water.
They may also be the result of:
No matter where you bathe, you can take some precautions. Thus, you avoid exposing yourself to microorganisms or contaminants into bathing waters or having health problems. To learn more, read the Preventing Health Problems Associated with Bathing Waters page.
Some people are more at risk of presenting health problems associated with bathing waters. They include:
Last update: February 16, 2017 8:38 AM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.