Is Stagnant Pool Water Dangerous? [Updated!]

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The fear of getting sick from contaminated water is real. With pandemic levels of anxiety surrounding the Covid-19 crisis, people are seeking safe and happy ways to spend their time. Swimming pools have become a thing of the past, with many people choosing to stay indoors while keeping active through yoga and walking classes.

However, what about that stagnant pool water at the bottom of the garden? You may be wondering if there is any danger in getting sick from a pool that hasn’t been used for a while.

Here, we assess the risks posed by stagnant pool water.

Microbial Pollutants And Parasites

The bacteria species found in stagnant pool water can become a source of health concern. When feces and urine are not properly disposed of, the water can become contaminated with E. coli and other dangerous bacteria. These bacteria can irritate the skin and cause rashes, hives, and allergies.

Additionally, parasites like amoebas and flukes can inhabit the water. These creatures cause intestinal problems in humans and other animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that these parasites can lead to liver disease, fatigue, and even death.

Some animals may be more susceptible to parasites than others. For example, dogs are more likely to contract flukes as they have a smaller stomach volume than cats. Similarly, small children are at risk of certain amoebas as their immune systems are not yet strong enough to fight them off. Animals and people with weak immune systems are more likely to suffer from the ill effects of stagnant pool water. It is also recommended that swimmers shower after participating in sport to reduce the risk of getting sick.

Chemical Pollutants

Certain chemicals found in household products or in the water can also be harmful. For instance, the weed killer glyphosate is carcinogenic. Studies have also shown that it can cause infertility, birth defects, and chromosomal damage in humans. People are most likely to be affected by chemicals if they are exposed to high levels over a long period of time. For example, drinking glyphosate-contaminated water for several days could increase your risk of cancer.

However, the toxicity of chemicals varies from one person to another. Some people may be more affected by certain chemicals than others. For example, some people are more likely to be allergic to nickel than others. If you suspect that you or a family member is highly sensitive to chemicals, then it is essential to research the allergenicity of the chemicals present in the pool. An astute allergy sufferer may be able to identify chemicals that cause problems and avoid them.


Fluoride is a natural mineral that occurs in water and is present in some toothpastes. However, too much fluoride can become toxic. Several studies have found that infants and children are at risk of overexposure to fluoride. It is also possible that adults may be more affected by fluoride than children as adults have a longer exposure time. Some people develop a tolerance to it after prolonged exposure, making it safer for individuals who take regular doses. However, too much fluoride can lead to joint pain, arthritis, and weak bones. Additionally, too much fluoride prevents the body from producing its own vitamin D, which is necessary for proper bone health. Although the risk of overexposure to fluoride is real, it is generally believed to be less harmful than previously thought.

Aluminium And Magnesium

Aluminium is a reactive mineral commonly found in water. It can become toxic at high levels, especially for people with weak immune systems. Magnesium is another mineral that occurs in water. It is necessary for many biochemical processes in the human body. However, too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps. The safe daily oral intake level of magnesium for adults is 300 mg. Individuals with kidney problems and young children may be at risk of overexposure to magnesium.


Chlorine is another chemical found in water that is extremely harmful when ingested. Symptoms of acute chlorine ingestion include diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, and dehydration. These symptoms generally occur within minutes to hours of exposure. Additionally, it is a potential carcinogen, and it may also be mutagenic. Symptoms of chronic chlorine ingestion include stomach upset, bloating, and water retention. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified chlorine as a Group 2B carcinogen. This means that it is probably carcinogenic to humans. However, studies have found that drinking water with high levels of chlorine is not necessarily dangerous as it may not cause cancer after all. Furthermore, it has been shown to be protective against some forms of cancer. The jury is still out as to whether or not chlorine is a carcinogen.


Nitrates are another type of chemical found in water. They occur naturally, but humans have been altering the geology of the area to produce more of it. Some studies have shown that eating food with a high concentration of nitrates can lead to asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Nitrates also contribute to algae growth, which depletes oxygen in the water. This, in turn, harms fish and other aquatic life. Nitrates have also been known to irritate the skin and damage the lungs on contact. Individuals should always wear gloves when handling food with nitrates as some people are extremely sensitive to them and experience symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and headaches if they consume any nitrates at all.


Sulphates are chemicals that occur naturally in some foods and water. However, humans have been altering the environment to make it more acidic. This, in turn, increases the amount of sulphates present in the air and water. Sulphates contribute to acid rain, which has a devastating effect on the environment. They are also present in some drain cleaners, making them lethal if swallowed. Sulphates are not necessarily harmful to humans in small quantities, however, prolonged exposure to them can cause damage. Studies have also shown that too much soda can contribute to osteoporosis and kidney problems. These are just some of the potential health concerns associated with stagnant pool water. Remember, the environment is more important than any one individual. For this reason, it is advised that you do your bit to reduce your ecological footprint and only use what you need.

The most effective way to ensure that your pool water is safe and suitable for swimming is to get a water quality test performed. This will tell you what types of microorganisms are present in your pool and whether or not any of them pose a health threat. In the meantime, you can remove the risk of exposure to chemicals by regularly changing the filters and disinfecting the pool.

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