Archive for the ‘pollution’ Category

image-20161208-31364-86rhncThe Conversation Reports: Our modern distaste for river swimming is a stark constrast with a history where urban rivers provided a venue for sport, recreation and entertainment – all within easy distance of shops, offices and public transport.

Pollution has changed the face of river swimming across the world. Not that pollution in itself has put people off outdoor swimming. In the UK for instance, summertime tradition sees holidaymakers keen to paddle and swim in the sea despite pollution on many beaches. Rather, the public perception that rivers and lakes are unsafe or unclean is so intrenched that it is rarely questioned. Rather like the beguiled Emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s: The Emperor’s New Clothes, todays would be swimmers are so convinced by what they think they know that they cannot see what is obvious to little boys.

Discover just how different attitudes are in Switzerland


Read Full Post »


The New – Can I swim here? app…

Stuff.co.nz reports: Swimmers in New Zealand are now able to check online or via a new app to see if the beach or river they want to visit has clean swimming water.


Regular testing at times when swimmers most often frequent bathing places, make this real-time information invaluable, setting a new standard of transparency for swimmers living in or visiting the country. More…


Read Full Post »

The Mirror reports: “Almost seven in 10 of bathing sites in England now meet ‘excellent’ standard set out by the EU…”


In 2016, 287 beaches and inland swimming sites in the country met the tough top standards set out in the European Union’s Bathing Water Directive (69.5%), and 407 out of the 413 spots assessed passed the minimum grade.

But six bathing waters failed to meet even minimum standards: Scarborough South Bay, Yorkshire; Clacton (Groyne 41), Essex; Walpole Bay, Margate, Kent; Instow, Devon; Ilfracombe Wildersmouth, Devon; and Burnham Jetty North, Somerset.

The figures, which look at results for water quality over the last four years, are an improvement on 2015, the first year of results under the new EU system , when 63.6% of beaches met excellent standards.

This is partly due to improvements being made in infrastructure at or near bathing sites in recent years, which has helped reduce pollution and cut levels of harmful bacteria in swimming spots that can make people ill.

But this year’s figures are also better than 2015 because of more favourable weather conditions.

Better weather reduces the risk of overflows from sewers and storm drains and the amount of urban and agricultural pollutants washing down to the sea when there is heavy rainfall.

The 2015 results include the very wet summer of 2012, which saw water quality at bathing sites drop.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “England’s bathing waters are enjoyed by millions of people every year, which is why I am delighted the water quality at our beaches and lakes is better than at any time since before the Industrial Revolution. More…


Read Full Post »


EUobserver reports: Copenhagen is one of the only cities in Europe where the harbour water is again clean enough to swim in.

The city has built three popular harbour baths – a new type of city-beach for people to swim, sunbathe, and cool off on hot summer days.

A 2-kilometre race in the canals around the Danish parliament in August saw a record 3,600 participants this year.

During the last decade, the harbour baths have also become popular with tourists. They are the most visible result of a deliberate decision in the municipality to move polluting industry out of the harbour, and to clean all waste water before it reaches the sea.

The harbour baths are open 24/7 and many people living in the city centre have taken up the habit of a morning swim before heading to work.

There is no entry fee. Anyone is free to jump in and to enjoy the feeling of pumping blood, tickling skin and the salty taste of sea water.

Swimming around parliament

A 2-kilometre race in the canals around the Danish parliament in August saw a record 3,600 participants this year. Some 230 came from abroad to take part.

For swimmers, the race offers a very different perspective of the city and its old parliament building, Christiansborg. For tourists, who gathered on the city’s bridges and wharfs, clapping and photographing, it offers the unusual sight of swimmers splashing in city canals.

“The water is really clean, I saw streams of small fish and jellyfish when passing Knippelsbridge,” Julia Winklewski told EUobserver…

The water temperature is 20C in August, but in winter the harbour can be covered by ice.

Despite freezing temperatures, winter swimming is a popular activity among Danes. Some 11,000 people are registered members of winter swimming clubs around the country, with many more on waiting lists. Swimming is believed to improve people’s health and their quality of life. Read more…

Read Full Post »

The Age – Victoria reports: Fancy a swim in the Yarra River?

Watercraft regulations make it illegal and water quality makes it questionable – especially after it rains – but a not-for-profit group wants to change that by building a floating swimming pool on the river’s edge that would cost at least $6 million.

The Yarra Swim Co has released a concept design for the pool it suggests could be built on the banks of the Yarra next to Enterprize Park, where Melbourne’s settlers moored their ship in 1835.


The concept was released on Thursday night as part of Australia’s Venice Biennale Exhibition, opening this week.

The group last year pushed to revive the historic Race to Princes Bridge, a swim competition that ran from the early 1900s to the 1960s, and again in the late 1980s.

It argues that waterway pools are a growing concept globally, with plans under way for New York and London. More…

Read Full Post »

The North Devon Journal reports: “We have had enough – this has to stop before something serious happens,” warns one Appledore man who is sick of seeing raw sewage pumped into the River Torridge.

The sewer outfall is close to boat moorings and many people can be seen swimming and fishing in the stretch of water.Mr Smale said: “At one point last summer, I actually saw used women’s sanitary items in the water and I have had to constantly clean raw sewage off my boat – it’s awful.”

Torridge District Councillor Andrew Eastman, (corr) ward member for Appledore, has been pressing South West Water and most recently Ofwat (The Water Services Regulation Authority) to get the sewage issue sorted.

“For years and years this has gone on. It’s about time something is done. I just don’t know what more we can do,” he said.Mr Smale added: “I have seen children playing in that water. I would not dare let my grandchildren do the same. We don’t know what the sewage is doing to the fish, never mind people who swim in the river. Something needs to be done before someone falls ill, before something serious happens.” More…

Read Full Post »

The Mail Online reports: Scientists find insect repellent, caffeine and flame retardant chemicals in public pools.

  • Researchers collected water from pools in Indiana and Georgia
  • Chlorine is designed to keep swimming pools clear of certain bacteria
  • But it also reacts with pharmaceuticals to create harmful by-products
  • Tests revealed traces of insect repellent, caffeine and flame retardants
  • It is though these chemicals originated from everyday pharmaceuticals and personal care products
  • Experts warned such chemicals can be ingested and cause health issues

Boy in Swimming Pool

Many pools ask swimmers to shower before getting in the water, and a new study has highlighted the grim reality of why this is.

Tests on water collected from indoor swimming pools in the US discovered that everyday pharmaceuticals, such as makeup, could be reacting in a harmful way with the chlorine in the pool.

The analysis found traces of chemicals typically found in skin care products, insect repellent and flame retardants, all of which have the potential to be ingested by swimmers.

‘The main issue is that the release of chemicals into a place like a swimming pool is completely uncontrolled and unknown. I don’t want to be an alarmist. We haven’t discovered anything that would be cause for alarm right now, but the bottom line is we just don’t know.’

Some chemicals are volatile, which means they can escape into the air to be inhaled. Others can be ingested or absorbed through the skin.

‘Swimmers are exposed to chemicals through three different routes: You can inhale, you can ingest and it can go through your skin.

‘So the exposure you receive in a swimming pool setting is potentially much more extensive than the exposure you would receive by just one route alone,’ Professor Blatchley said.

Pharmaceuticals may get into swimming pool water from personal care products applied to the skin such as insect repellant, makeup and sunscreen.

Many pharmaceuticals that are ingested are not fully metabolised by the body and are excreted in sweat and urine.

‘Urine, I think, is really the primary mode of introduction,’ Professor Blatchley said.

‘When it comes to pharmaceuticals, these are chemicals designed to be biologically active at pretty low concentrations.

‘Birth control pills, for example, contain hormones. If those chemicals and others are present, especially in a mixture in a water sample that humans are going to be exposed to, then what are the consequences of that?

‘That is a largely unanswered question.’

The findings are published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

Read more…

Interestingly the Daily Mail has highlighted many scares like this over water quality. Quoting from Hung Out to Dry page 129: “in the August of 1933 the Daily Mail drew attention to the deplorable condition of many swimming pools throughout the country. Warnings were given about both the lack of chlorination and its overuse. This article shocked both the public and the medical profession with reports of typhoid and diphtheria contracted in swimming pools. The paper continued to highlight the unsatisfactory conditions, until by 1935 great improvements had been achieved.[1]

wild swimming leicester lido

The Bede House Lido Leicester

As suspicion grew over water quality, river and lake bathing places came in for scrutiny, In Leicester all official river bathing stations were closed as the water was deemed unfit to swim in. Since then natural water quality has improved beyond recognition, yet swimming in polluted indoor pools is the only swimming sanctioned in the city today!

[1] The 1936 Public Health Act focused attention on water quality. The lake in London’s Victoria Park closed and swimmers moved into a newly constructed lido.

Read Full Post »