Parents have on-going concerns for their children’s health despite test showing that water quality in Hanoi’s main swimming pools legal guidelines.

Dr. Nguyen Hoa Binh, deputy director of the Hanoi Preventive Medicine, said water at the 20 pools checked since the start of May meet basic hygiene requirements. Central Hanoi has 50 pools.

The standard level of chlorine used to disinfect the water and helped remove bacteria is 0.3 to 0.5 mlg/l.

The water in 14 of the pools checked was within the guidelines and the other six were above or below but not enough to cause serious diseases.

“All the checked pools meet the standard requirements in pH and micro-organism checks,” said Binh.

Despite the tests, parents’ concerns remain.

“When I took my son to a pool early in the morning, the whole area was full of a strong chlorine smell.
“I seems like the managers only use chemicals to make the water clearer, but do not change the water from previous days,” said Pham Quoc Tuan, who lives in the Quan Hoa Ward of Cau Giay District.

“My children usually feel itchy after swimming even though the pool water looks clear,” he said, even though he realised a smell was unavoidable as chlorine was needed to keep the pools clean.

Most large pools use automatic filtration systems of a Spanish design.

The chemicals, mostly imported from Japan , are automatically added to the system when required.

“People in the pools are the main source of bacterial contamination,” Binh said.

During hot periods or during weekends, about 500 to 700 people swim each day in popular pools in Hanoi , such as Thai Ha, Tang Bat Ho, Tay Ho and Bon Mua.

“Many have clean and modern bathrooms. People are required to shower before swimming but most only have a quick wash or skip this step,” said Binh.

Doctor Le Thi Hang, from the Ear-Nose-Throat Faculty of the Vietnam Sport Hospital , said “All pools have rules that say people who have heart disease, asthma or infectious diseases are not allowed to swim but it is hard to check every person.”

“The first priority for many pools is maximising profit and they do not pay serious attention to the likely threats from overcrowding,” Hang said.

The manager of the Bon Mua pool in Hoan Kiem District, who did not want to reveal her surname, said “We cannot restrict the number of people who come to our pool each day, even though we know it is overcrowded.”

Dang Quynh Hoa, who lives in Doi Can in Ba Dinh District, said: “In summer, pools are always crowded. I have seen many irresponsible actions of other people while swimming. I decided to take my daughter to pools in big hotels even though the cost is much higher than normal pools.”

Pools in leading hotels such as Daewoo, Hanoi Horizon or Bao Son are usually small and indoor, with a clean water source and fully equipped filtration systems.
A mother said the cost of swim there was high – usually 10-15 USD each time – so it was only suitable for foreigners or the rich. Doctor Hang said wearing swimming goggles and caps helped avoid skin and other ear, nose and throat diseases. After swimming, people should carefully shower and use shampoo and also an eye wash./.