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Maybe not so Swimple - EHA Press Statement

27th Nov 19

Maybe not so Swimple

New Swimply app launched in Australia may raise public health concerns

 

BRISBANE, QLD, November 27

Press Statement

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.

This app, described as ‘Airbnb for pools’, rents previously private pools to public users in a move that EHA believes to result in the pools becoming ‘public pools’ by definition of each state’s public health legislation with implications for user, owner, and inspection agency.  

State public health legislation currently mandates the registration of public pools with local government authorities, the disinfection process for such pools, the frequency of water quality sampling, and appropriate water quality chemical parameters.  Environmental Health Officer’s in these local governments are responsible for ensuring that risk to community health from waterborne disease is addressed through regular inspection of these public pools, education programs, and enforcement of these legislative standards. 

Far from being a simple issue of definition change, EHA believes registration of previously private pools as public pools without the accompanying appropriate understanding of role and responsibility, notification to local government agencies, training of operators, microbial sampling, infection control and contamination response plan unacceptably increases community risk of waterborne disease from bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. A swimming pool can be easily contaminated with 1 gram of faeces (this being about the size of a small pill) which can contain well over 1 million pathogenic bacteria.

Under the app terms and conditions, it is clearly outlined that the user of the service takes full responsibility and assume all risks associated.   EHA, a preventative health profession, prefers to see appropriate and legislated health protection measures in place before users are asked to accept this risk. 

EHA therefore recommends that: 

-       Persons using the Swimply app to hire pools do their due diligence and check that the pool they are hiring complies with all regulatory requirements, including microbial testing.

-       Persons using the Swimply app to rent pools do so with awareness of their responsibility under state public health legislation to register with the appropriate body, ensure disinfection and chemical parameters are met, and undertake water quality testing in their pools

-       Swimply make publicly available all their policies and procedures, clearly indicate to pool owners their responsibilities under the relevant state public health legislation, and assist local government and enforcement agencies in understanding increased numbers of newly public pools in each area.  

- Local government and enforcement agencies are aware of the increased public health protection responsibilities of their Environmental Health Officer’s with the increase in public pools, and resource appropriately. 

 

Environmental Health Australia is committed to the enhancement of environmental health standards and services to the community through advocacy, promotion, education and leadership. 

End

 

Contact Samantha Smith, National Communications Officer for any queries at samantha.smith@eh.org.au