Like public beaches, pools and other artificial recreational waters are great places to have fun and cool off in the summer. However, they can also be a breeding ground for recreational waterborne illnesses (RWIs), including a wide variety of infections such as gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurological, and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea. This can be caused by germs such as crypto (short for cryptosporidium), giardia, shigella, norovirus and E. coli (O157:H7).
Public health inspectors from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit regularly visit public pools, spas (hot tubs and whirlpools), splash pads, wading pools, and other artificial bodies of water to collect water samples and analyze for bacteria that can cause illness. Our role is to:
- Regularly monitor (based on Ontario Public Health Standards guidelines) recreational waters to reduce the risk of waterborne illness and injury.
- Manage and respond to waterborne illness and injury.
- Educate and provide training for owners/operators.
- Report safe water data elements to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
- Ensure public pools follow Ontario Public Health Standards regulations.
- Respond to emergencies or complaints from users (please see contact information, below).
For Public Pool Owners/Operators
How to Respond to Recreational Water Fouling or Contamination
Water fouling/contamination poses a health risk to bathers and as well as owners/operators and their staff. Please follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of waterborne illness.
- Cleaning Up Body Fluid Spills on Pool Surfaces
- Fecal Incident Response Recommendations for Pool Staff (PDF – Revised September 2016)
In Ontario, the following regulations and policies affect public recreational waters:
- Ontario Regulation 565 (Public Pools) under the Health Promotion and Protection Act (HPPA)
- Ontario Regulation 428/05 (Public Spas) under the HPPA
- Ontario Building Code
For Further Information
Call the Environmental Health Program: (807) 625-5900
or toll-free 1-888-294-6630