The application of computational fluid dynamics and small-scale physical models to assess the effects of operational practices on the risk to public health within large indoor swimming pools

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Swimming pools provide an excellent facility for exercise and leisure but are also prone to contamination from microbial pathogens. The study modelled a 50-m × 20-m swimming pool using both a small-scale physical model and computational fluid dynamics to investigate how water and pathogens move around a pool in order to identify potential risk spots. Our study revealed a number of lessons for pool operators, designers and policy-makers: disinfection reaches the majority of a full-scale pool in approximately 16 minutes operating at the maximum permissible inlet velocity of 0.5 m/s. This suggests that where a pool is designed to have 15 paired inlets it is capable of distributing disinfectant throughout the water body within an acceptable time frame. However, the study also showed that the exchange rate of water is not uniform across the pool tank and that there is potential for areas of the pool tank to retain contaminated water for significant periods of time. ‘Dead spots’ exist at either end of the pool where pathogens could remain. This is particularly significant if there is a faecal release into the pool by bathers infected with Cryptosporidium parvum, increasing the potential for waterborne disease transmission.

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