Environmental Health Australia (EHA) hold concerns regarding both the public health and the industry resourcing implications of the recently launched Swimply app that was released on Tuesday the 26th of November in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Unless regular water testing and standard inspections are conducted, there is a risk for aquatically transmitted bacteria and viruses as well as pathogens transferred from the skin or bodily fluids of persons using the pool, to be found in the water. Microbial sampling and testing is not a common practice for private pool owners and there is no published evidence that Swimply mandate testing from their hosts. According to the NSW Health swimming pools and spa advisory, a swimming pool less than 26°C should be tested quarterly for microbes and pools over 26°C should be tested at least bi-monthly.
A swimming pool can be easily faecally contaminated with 1 gram of faeces (1 gram of faeces is about the size of a small pill) which can contain well over 1 million pathogenic bacteria. Whilst Poolwerx (who have partnered with Swimply) ensure the pool has efficient filtration and meets health and safety standards, there is no protocol in place if a guest using the pool contaminates the water in any way. The minimum testing and dosing rates outlined by NSW Health state; free chlorine should be tested/dosed every 2-4 hours, alkalinity should be tested daily, and automatic dosing systems should be checked daily to ensure accuracy. These minimum standards do not have any guidelines for external bodily contamination and may not be effective in protecting bathers from pathogens.
The regulation of standards in conjunction with regular sampling and inspecting of publicly available pools (all pools made available through the Swimply app would be considered as a public pool in terms of health and safety standards) is an important health protection measure mandated in all council owned pools. There are significant resourcing implications for local governments and regulatory bodies to ensure all pools under the Swimply app are maintaining local standards and ensuring public safety.
Under the app terms and conditions it is clearly outlined that the user of the service takes full responsibility and assumes all risks associated. Although there is an initial screening process facilities must pass prior to becoming available on the app, there is no mention of ongoing facility inspections and water testing compliance to ensure health standards are met.
Environmental Health Australia recommends that persons using the Swimply app do their due diligence and ensure the pool they are hiring complies with all regulatory requirements, incuding microbial testing. It is also recommended that Swimply make publicly available all their policies and procedures and implement the necessity of regular pool test reporting that is made available for users to view if they wish.
For a full position statement from EHA regarding the Swimply app please go to https://www.eh.org.au/news/maybe-not-so-swimple-eha-press-statement
Environmental Health Australia is committed to the enhancement of environmental health standards and services to the community through advocacy, promotion, education and leadership.