Making Health Happen
This week’s writer is a Public Health Inspector.
August 3, 2004
HOT TUBS / SPAS - WATER QUALITY AND SAFETY
Don't lose friends over your hot tub! If you operate a hot tub, do not expose your family and friends to conditions that can result in mild to serious skin infection or possible respiratory illness.
Warm water and the presence of organic material can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in a hot tub/spa environment. Pseudomonas bacteria commonly cause skin infections resulting in irritations that last for several days. Outbreaks of this nature are common and can happen to you.
Fortunately, proper hot tub operation and sanitation can prevent infections and irritations. Maintaining proper disinfection levels in a hot tub destroys bacteria, viruses, and impurities from bathers. The cleaner the water the more disinfectant is available to kill organisms. Therefore, shower using warm water and soap and thoroughly rinse off before entering or re-entering a hot tub. It is very important to replace the water in the hot tub and to maintain the filter, according to available operational guidelines and equipment instructions.
Bromine and free available chlorine levels should be maintained at a minimum of 5.0 parts per million (ppm) and the pH (acidity reading) should be in the 7.2 to 7.6 range. The total alkalinity should range from 80 to 120 ppm. Calcium hardness should be maintained between 150 to 200 ppm. If the difference in the total and free available chlorine, referred to as combined chlorine or chloramines, exceeds 0.5 ppm, then shocking the hot tub to 10 to 20 ppm is appropriate. For outdoor hot tubs where a stabilizer is used, the cyanuric acid concentration should not exceed 60 mg/L.
It is important to be aware that body overheating can occur from spending extended periods of time in a hot tub. Water temperatures should not exceed 40ºC (104ºF) and prolonged soaking should be avoided. If possible, spas should not be used alone. Extended periods of time in a hot tub may cause fainting. If you are pregnant or have a known medical problem such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, consult with your physician before using a hot tub/spa. Children under the age of twelve should be accompanied and supervised by a person aged sixteen years or more when using the spa. Avoid using a spa if you are taking medication that can cause drowsiness or affects blood pressure, or if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Avoid using a spa if you have an open sore or rash on the skin. Also tie back long hair to prevent entrapment in spa drains. Use anti-entrapment drain cover in hot tubs and spas.
For further information call Public Health at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, or visit our web site at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
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