CLOSE
Original image
iStock

CDC Report Confirms That Public Pools Are Gross

Original image
iStock

This just in: water is wet, and public pools are awash with fecal bacteria. This year’s pool safety report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is full of similarly unsurprising, if dismaying, information. A summary of the findings was published May 19 in the CDC’s fun-filled Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

From a preventive health perspective, community pools have a lot to offer: recreation, fun, opportunities to socialize, and physical activity. Unfortunately, these perks don’t come without costs. Drowning, injury, and outbreaks of disease are all real risks for pool users. 

To quantify these dangers and see if public facilities were following health and safety codes, CDC staff compiled the results of 84,187 routine inspections from 2013. The analysts only took data from the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs: Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas. 

The results were grim. One out of every eight routine inspections resulted in the closure of a facility. One in five kiddie/wading pools had to be shut down. And almost 80 percent of inspections found at least one violation of health or safety standards. The top three violations were imbalanced pool chemistry, lack of safety equipment, and too much or too little disinfectant in the water.

“No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground,” Beth Bell, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said in a press statement. “That’s why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim.” 

Unfortunately, many public health professionals are ignoring pools altogether. Only two-thirds of local health departments in the U.S. bother to regulate and inspect public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds. Those of us living in other jurisdictions are on our own. 

Before you burn your bathing suit, it’s worth noting that the report did have some limitations. These are inspection results from only five states, not the entire country. Second, these figures are averages, and some areas were more problematic than others. Third, there are no federal inspection standards, so each official may be going by a different set of rules. 

Still, there’s no harm in taking measures to keep yourself and your family safe. If you’re really concerned about swallowing poop bacteria (and we don’t blame you), you can bring your own test strips to check the pool’s chemistry. The CDC recommends looking for a free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and 3 ppm in hot tubs; a free bromine concentration of at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs; and a pH of 7.2–7.8. 

Original image
iStock
arrow
Medicine
Why Haven't We Cured Cancer Yet?
Original image
iStock

Walkathons, fundraisers, and ribbon-shaped bumper stickers raise research dollars and boost spirits, but cancer—the dreaded disease that affects more than 14 million people and their families at any given time—still remains bereft of a cure.

Why? For starters, cancer isn't just one disease—it's more than 100 of them, with different causes. This makes it impossible to treat each one using a one-size-fits-all method. Secondly, scientists use lab-grown cell lines cultivated from human tumors to develop cancer therapies. Living masses are far more complex, so potential treatments that show promise in lab experiments often don't work on cancer patients. As for the tumors themselves, they're prone to tiny genetic mutations, so just one growth might contain multiple types of cancer cells, and even unique sub-clones of tumors. These distinct entities might not respond the same way, or at all, to the same drug.

These are just a few of the challenges that cancer researchers face—but the good news is that they're working to beat all of them, as this TED-Ed video explains below.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Health
Skipping Breakfast Could Be Bad for Your Heart
Original image
iStock

There are mountains of evidence supporting the claim that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Getting something in your stomach in the first hours of the morning can regulate your glucose levels, improve your cognition, and keep your hunger in check. Now new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology points to another reason not to wait until lunchtime to break last night’s fast. As TIME reports, people who skip breakfast are at an increased risk for atherosclerosis, a disease caused by plaque buildup in the arteries.

Researchers surveyed over 4000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 54 living in Spain. After looking at the dietary habits of each participant, they broke them into three groups: people who consumed more than 20 percent of their daily calories in the morning; those who got 5 to 20 percent; and those who ate less than 5 percent.

The subjects who ate very little in the a.m. hours or skipped breakfast all together were 2.5 more likely to have generalized atherosclerosis. This meant that plaque was starting to collect on the walls of their arteries, hardening and narrowing them and increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke. People who fell into the 5 to 20 percent calorie category were also more likely to show early signs of the disease, while those who ate the most calories in the morning were the healthiest.

These results aren’t entirely surprising. Previous studies have shown a connection between skipping breakfast and health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and unwanted weight gain. A possible explanation for this trend could be that waiting several hours after waking up to eat your first meal of the day could trigger hormonal imbalances. The time between getting into and out of bed is the longest most of us go without eating, and our bodies expect us to consume some calories to help kickstart our energy for the day (drinking straight coffee doesn’t cut it). Another theory is that people who don’t eat in the morning are so hungry by the time lunch rolls around that they overcompensate for those missing calories, which is why skipping breakfast doesn’t make sense as a diet strategy.

But of course there are many breakfast skippers who aren’t motivated by health reasons either way: They just don’t think they have the time or energy to feed themselves in the morning before walking out the door. If this describes you, here are some simple, protein-packed meals you can prepare the night before.

[h/t TIME]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios