Water Quality and Health Council raising awareness of swimmer's ear with free pool test kits

ATLANTA — Swimmer’s ear accounts for as many as 2.4 million doctor visits and nearly $500 million in healthcare costs annually, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Thursday in its "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" found.

To help raise awareness around the condition, the Water Quality and Health Council is making free pool test kits available to the public so swimmers can check pH and chlorine levels. According to the CDC, pools with proper pH and chlorine levels are less likely to harbor the bacteria that can cause "swimmer's ear" and the germs that cause other recreational water illnesses, including diarrhea and athlete's foot.

Last summer, the Water Quality and Health Council provided more than 43,000 free pool test strips to individuals who requested them via the Healthy Pools website. Data submitted last summer by swimmers who had requested the strips found that 40% of pools had either unacceptable levels of chlorine or pH readings.

When testing pool water for proper pH and chlorine levels, the pH should register between 7.2 and 7.8, and the free chlorine level should be between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million (ppm).