Purdue researcher says COVID-19 most likely won't spread through pool water

Research at Purdue suggests that coronavirus cannot spread easily through pool water directly, but this is only if the pool water's chemical are correct.

Posted: Jun 7, 2020 9:36 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2020 11:55 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - School is out and summer is officially in session. Many pools are not open for summer, including the one at Prophetstown State Park, because of coronavirus concerns

As we previously reported, Castaway Bay in Lafayette opened Memorial Day weekend only allowing 50% of the pools full capacity at a time.

Research at Purdue suggests that coronavirus cannot spread easily through pool water directly, but this is only if the pool water's chemicals are correct. In the U.S., the general guidance for keeping pools properly disinfected is maintaining a free chlorine concentration between 1 and 5 milligrams per liter.

Ernest Blatchley is Purdue’s Lee A. Rieth Professor in Environmental Engineering. He studies how chlorine in swimming pools reacts to contaminants such as body fluid, pharmaceuticals and personal care product.

He said there isn't much data on how this specific novel coronavirus spreads in pool water. However, he said this novel disease acts very similarly to other coronaviruses.

And previous research on other coronaviruses shows correct amounts of chlorine will keep the virus from spreading in the water.

"We expect that those disinfectants will be very effective for control of this new, this novel coronavirus," he said. "So that's an expectation, it hasn't been proven but it seems pretty likely."

Blatchley emphasized how this research is specific only to the water. Coronavirus most commonly spreads through the air. Meaning there is a high chance the virus could spread at a pool through close contact with other patrons.

"Social distancing is still part of what we need to do in a swimming pool setting, in any setting," he said. "You know washing your hands. You can apparently pick up this virus from a contaminated surface."

Community pools in Indiana were allowed to reopen as part of Stage Three of Governor Eric Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan, which started on May 22nd. Stage Four is set to begin June 14th.

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