Yes to swimming in the sea or in the pool: no contagion in the water thanks to salt, chlorine and ultraviolet rays

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Elia Tabuenca García
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Coronavirus, is it possible to be infected at the sea or in a swimming pool? Very unlikely, as long as social distancing measures are respected.

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Coronavirus, is it possible to be infected at the sea or in a swimming pool? Very unlikely, as long as social distancing measures are respected. This is what the experts of the Spanish Higher Scientific Research Council (Csic) say, which in a report analyze the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in spaces intended for bathing and other aquatic activities.





In the study, the researchers conclude that the main routes of infection remain, even in these places, respiratory secretions caused by coughing or sneezing and person-to-person contact and emphasize that, by maintaining distances, sea water and swimming pools presents no risks. On the other hand, untreated fresh water could transmit the virus, while it remains established that the disinfection of beaches remains an absolutely useless and harmful practice for the environment:

Disinfection of the beaches: we avoid unnecessary environmental destruction, there is no scientific confirmation that it works!

Basically, according to Spanish experts, only the gatherings that can occur in swimming pools and beaches, as well as the use of everyday objects, can continue to act as a contagion mechanism. Other possible contagion routes examined are those derived from the presence of the virus in the wastewater that can reach the bathing water bodies and the survival of the virus from bathers in nearby waters, sands and surfaces.

Specifically, according to the CSIC report:

  • The main route of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in beaches, rivers, lakes and swimming pools remains respiratory secretions that are generated by coughing and sneezing and from person-to-person contact
  • In recreational activities, SARS-CoV-2 infection by contact with water is highly unlikely. However, these activities generally result in a loss of recommended social distancing measures
  • In swimming pools and spas, where the use of disinfectant agents is already widely applied in itself in order to avoid microbial contamination of the water by the influx of users, the residual concentration of the disinfectant agent present in the water should be enough to make the virus null
  • The aerosols generated by the water present in a spa or medicinal water system will have the same disinfection characteristics of the bath water of these systems.
  • In cases where the environment of the structures is kept at high temperatures, such as in the case of saunas and steam baths, the survival of the virus is expected to be reduced due to the high temperature (> 60 ºC)
  • Although at the moment there are no data on the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in seawater, according to scholars the large dilution and the presence of salt are considered factors capable of decreasing or neutralizing its viral load, as happens to others. similar pathogens
  • Survival of SARS-CoV-2 in fresh and untreated water from rivers, lakes, pools and bodies of water may be greater than that in treated pools and salt water. So the researchers in this case are advised to avoid gatherings
  • Although there are no studies on the prevalence of viruses in the sand present on beaches or on the banks of rivers, the joint action of sea salt, ultraviolet solar radiation and the high temperature that can reach the sand, are favorable to the inactivation of agents pathogens
  • It is not recommended to disinfect the floors of natural spaces with the normal procedures for urban public spaces. Any form of beach sand disinfection must be environmentally friendly

Of the same opinion also Nicola Petrosillo, director of the clinical and research department of Infectious Diseases of the Spallanzani hospital, who during a video conference said:



“Even if an infected were to take a bath then it would disperse the virus in the water. In the sea everything is diluted ". Of course it is better not to swim face to face with another person, but sea water is not in itself a vehicle of infection ”.

In addition, salt water would also help make the virus harmless as well as chlorine in swimming pools. As for the sand, in order for the infection to occur, a sudden passage in the respiratory tract of a person would be needed, which is really difficult.

The Turkish professor of virology at the Pharmacy Faculty of Monastir Mahjoub Al-Awni is also of the same opinion, who last Tuesday declared in a note to the Tunis Africa news agency that "sea water and swimming pools do not transmit the infection of SarsCov2, but the gatherings and the lack of respect for physical distance when swimming or sitting by the sea are all behaviors that would significantly increase the infection ". Also according to Al-Awni:

"Sea water contains a high percentage of salt and other disinfectants such as" iodine "while swimming pool water is mixed with chlorine, and therefore the outer membrane of the coronavirus loses its effectiveness, making it unable to penetrate into the cells of the human body even if it managed to penetrate into the nose or mouth. Furthermore, exposing more parts of the body to sunlight while swimming would provide significant amounts of vitamin D, which plays an important role in improving immunity "

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We will say, therefore, all in all, that if we ever manage to go to the beach for a while this year, we could breathe a sigh of relief that - even if distant from each other - we will be able to take a peaceful bath.



Source: Csic / Mosaiquefm

Read also:

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  • Summer 2020: closed beaches and bathing season already compromised
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