A new study has shown that “swim diapers” or swimming nappies do not prevent the spread of waterborne, disease-causing germs including cryptosporidium, although they do slow the spread of the infection to some extent.
Scientists from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte headed by Dr James Amburgey, reported at March’s Swimming Pool & Spa International Conference in London that swim diapers help by slowing down the release of disease-causing germs, but the benefits are short lived. Crypto is spread by diarrhoea from infected people or mammals and is the single largest illness threat to pool users.
To prevent the spread of Crypto, officials advise that people should not get in the water if they have diarrhoea. The researchers measured the amount of microsphere that released from swim diapers worn by children. The microspheres were plastic particles that have a similar size (five microns) to that of crypto. Normal swim trunks, common disposable diapers and reusable diapers with and without vinyl diaper covers were tested.
Swimming trunks without a swim diaper of any kind had the poorest performance – almost 90 per cent of the microspheres were released into the water within one minute. Swim diapers released the least of the microspheres (50 per cent) within one minute. Placement of a vinyl diaper cover over a disposable swim diaper slightly improved performance. In all cases, 25 per cent or more of the microspheres were detected in the water within two minutes.
Dr Amburgey will be reporting on the findings at the World Aquatic Health Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, October 28-30, 2009.