Small Inflatable and Plastic Pools Can Spread IllnessSmall inflatable pools and plastic pools (usually 3 to 5 feet diameter) or other small water play attractions (for example, slides) have been associated with the spread of recreational water illnesses (RWIs). RWIs can be spread by swallowing or having contact with contaminated recreational water. These illnesses are caused by germs such as Crypto (short forCryptosporidium), E. coli O157:H7, and Shigella.
Small inflatable and plastic pools are typically filled with tap water. Some people in the United States have a disinfectant in their tap water but this is not adequate to kill germs that may get into water used for swimming. Sources of information exist about how to disinfect these pools. However, it may not be practical to kill germs by adding chlorine bleach to small pools. This is because the chlorine dose cannot be easily determined or safely monitored to ensure that the right amount of chlorine continuously stays in the water. These pools also do not have filters to remove particles that could prevent the chlorine from working well. Using these types of pools increases the risk of spreading RWIs brought into the water by swimmers with a diarrheal illness.
The use of small inflatable and plastic pools in child care programs or schools should be discouraged. This includes small child care settings in private homes. The larger number of children from different families in child care settings and schools can increase the risk for spreading RWIs.
Children from one family or household are often bathed together so they are unlikely to be at increased risk of spreading diarrheal illness to each other if allowed to use the same inflatable or plastic pool. However, allowing larger numbers of children from different families to use these pools is likely to increase the risk of spreading diarrheal illnesses. Any household deciding to use these types of small pools should follow the steps below to reduce the spread of illness:
Remember that these small pools can also pose a drowning hazard if not properly supervised or enclosed. Local swimming pool codes may require fences around small inflatable and plastic pools