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Water quality mostly safe in Beijing's swimming pools: official

(Global Times)

11:10, August 09, 2011

A girl swims in an outdoor swimming pool in Chaoyang Park Monday. (Global Times Photo)

Most of Beijing's swimming pools met sanitation standards during inspections this summer, according to the city's health authorities Monday.

However, concerns still remain among swimmers as many pools have lax management and lack pre-health checks of their customers.

Inspections started in June, according to the Beijing Health Inspection Institute under the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.

Although results last year showed that only 57.43 percent of pools in Beijing met water quality standards, this year the institute found most of the pools are doing OK, said a media spokesperson with the institute surnamed Cai Monday. Cai would not yet reveal this year's figure.

Since 2006, Beijing has abolished a previous regulation that required each swimmer to show a health certificate, or swimming certificate, when they go to public swimming venues, according to Zhai Yu, an official with the Municipal Bureau of Sports.

Swimmers' medical history and blood pressure used to be recorded in a health test at pools when they signed up, Zhai said, and swimmers found to have high blood pressure, serious contagious diseases or heart disease would be forbidden to swim.
"But now the certificate is not mandatory anymore, so we have to ask pools themselves to check swimmers before they go in," he said.

There should be checks at the entrances of swimming places to stop swimmers with serious skin diseases, pinkeye or other eye diseases, Beijing Daily quoted Gao Wenxin with the Beijing Health Inspection Institute as saying Monday.

Most pools in Beijing have dropped the health certificate requirement, but still claimed staff check on swimmers before they go in.

"We check with our eyes, and if swimmers have red eyes or skin disease, we'll notice," said an employee at a Haidian district pool.

According to a regulation issued in 2007 by the General Administration of Sport of China, there should be signs outside swimming venues stating that people with hepatitis, venereal disease, eye and ear problems, or drunk swimmers, are prohibited.

"There are signs outside, but I've never seen anyone outside the pool checking on people's health. You just go straight in," said Lan Lan, a local resident who swims once or twice a week. "How can they know if you have a contagious disease or not? They must have skipped the check to save on labor costs," she said.

Currently most pools in Beijing use an automatic water filter system and disinfectants to keep water clean, said Zhai.

However, swimmers are still worried that pool water is not sanitary.

"The most disgusting thing about swimming pools is to find human spit floating on the water, " Lan said.

"I saw people go straight into the pool after working out at the gym, without taking a shower," said Ren Fei, a Beijinger who regularly swims.

"The pool water in gyms is better than in an open-air pool," she said, "since open ones are more crowded and kids even pee in it."

The city's pools have been categorized according to their sanitary status since 2006, said Cai. "A" is the highest status, and "C" the worst.

Beijing Daily reported Monday that of 34 pools in Fengtai district, eight are graded as "A," 18 as "B," six "C", and two are too bad to be graded.

Although the overall water quality of pools is good in inspections, authorities found many pools lack qualified lifeguards, Zhai said.

"The demand for such lifesavers exceeds the supply," he said, explaining that since 2009, lifeguards have to acquire a certificate issued by the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security and the administration of sports.


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