Monday, September 17th, 2012
Nearly 140 children under age 15 were reported to have drowned in swimming pools and spa tubs during the 2012 summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) has found. A release announcing the report says, in part:
An additional 168 children of that age required emergency response for near-fatal incidents in pools or spas during that period.
“These figures are a strong indication that child drownings are a serious public health problem,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said. “We are losing too many children to drowning, tragically cutting short these young lives and leaving families devastated. While summer is ending, our vigilance in ensuring that all children pool safely must not end. With so many indoor community pools, hotel pools and spas, indoor waterparks, as well as outdoor pools that remain open in warm-weather states, we must continue our efforts to remind everyone to pool safely whenever they are near the water.”
The media figures for this summer show that 54 of these drownings occurred soon after the children left an adult who was in their immediate vicinity, and 31 children drowned despite the presence of others at the pool.
Image: Swimming pool, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Canadian swimmer Catherine Garceau won a Bronze medal for synchronized swimming in 2000, but in her forthcoming memoir “Heart of Bronze,” she describes why she’s currently out of the pool–she attributes a number of health problems, including chronic bronchitis and frequent migraines, to her continuous exposure to the high levels of chlorine found in indoor swimming pools.
Her book is drawing attention to the question of whether indoor pools, enclosed environments that leave swimmers breathing more chemically-potent air, are safe, particularly for children and even for male fertility. CNN.com reports:
Dr. Alfred Bernard is a professor of toxicology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels and one of the world’s leading researchers on aquatic environments. He has published a series of studies documenting the effects of chlorine and its byproducts in swimming pools.
In June, Bernard published a study in the International Journal of Andrology linking chlorine with testicular damage. Swimming in indoor, chlorinated pools during childhood was shown to reduce levels of serum inhibin B and total testosterone, both indicators of sperm count and mobility. Bernard notes in the study summary that the “highly permeable scrotum” allows chlorine to be absorbed into the body.
Bernard has also substantiated previous studies’ claims of a link between swimming in indoor chlorinated pools and the development of asthma and recurrent bronchitis in children. His 2007 study showed airway and lung permeability changes in children who had participated in an infant swimming group.
Reading these studies, it’s easy to forget that swimming itself is a great aerobic exercise that puts less stress on your joints than activities like running. In fact, it’s a sport often recommended for children with asthma because the humid, moist environment makes it easier for athletes to inhale and the breathing techniques can improve lung function.
(image via: http://www.techcomponents.com/)
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Monday, June 20th, 2011
Nearly 250 children drowned or nearly drowned in portable pools from 2001 to 2009, about two dozen each year, the first national study of portable pool safety has found. The study, which gathered its data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, was published today in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics. It reports that wading pools, inflatable pools, and other soft-sided portable pools carry a similar danger level to in-ground pools, and some children drowned in as little as two inches of water.
Almost all the drownings or near-drownings–94 percent–involved children under 5 years of age. Fifty-six percent involved boys, and 73 percent occurred in the child’s own backyard. Researchers concluded that many parents might not feel the same sense of safety urgency with portable pools as they do with the deeper waters of in-ground pools.
“The anecdotal evidence was suggesting that because portable pools are readily available in many convenience stores and malls, and they’re relatively cheap, parents would pick them up, take them home, quickly assemble them, and all this would be done without a lot of forethought about the safety aspects,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told The Associated Press.
Smith recommends a consumer education campaign to raise awareness that drowning is the second-leading cause of injury deaths among young children, and portable pools can be dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. Precautions should take the form of “layers of protection,” the study said, including constant, vigilant adult supervision, proper isolation or fencing around the pool when not in use, and CPR education for caregivers and parents.
(image via: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/)
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