Too many germs for children in swimming lakes

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ADAC determines increased bacterial load in bathing lakes

Many bathing lakes in Germany are so contaminated with germs that there is a considerable health risk for children. The ADAC has investigated the water quality in 60 bathing lakes and found that a fifth of the measuring points found the germ concentration in the shallow water area to be too high.

Frequently, the limits of the permissible germ load of a bathing water determined by the Federal Environment Agency were "significantly exceeded" during the examination of the bathing lakes, reported the ADAC in its current press release. As part of their investigation, the ADAC testers paid particular attention to the shallow water and paddling area intended for children. The germ concentrations found here can pose a considerable health risk for the little ones.

Water quality of 60 bathing waters examined As part of the bathing water test, the ADAC experts took three water samples per measuring point from 60 swimming lakes across Germany between June and August 2011. However, while the official EU measurements are carried out in the so-called swimming area (water depth of at least one meter), the ADAC has specifically taken its samples from the "shallow water zones with a depth of up to 30 centimeters, which are very popular with children". Because the bacterial load can vary significantly within a bathing water. Deviations between the shallow water area and the swimming area are quite common here. "In addition, shallow and therefore warmer water is naturally more polluted," reports the ADAC. As with the EU-planned investigations of bathing water, the ADAC test analyzed the bacterial load with bacteria from the genus Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci. A control sample was last taken at all measuring points in May 2012 to check the changes compared to the previous year.

Often harmful to health in the shallow water area The result of the ADAC is quite worrying, because a fifth of the bathing lakes showed harmful concentrations of bacteria. Often "the limit values ​​for bathing bans recommended by the Federal Environment Agency were significantly exceeded", reports the ADAC. The result of the bathing water investigation was worst at a lido in Gaienhofen on Lake Constance (Baden-Württemberg). Because of the very high concentration of intestinal enterococci, the ADAC gave the grade "poor". Such high levels of germs can "cause infections, especially in children," according to the ADAC. The more serious consequences of an enterococcal infection include, for example, urinary tract infections, but also inflammation of the inner skin of the heart (endocarditis) and blood poisoning (sepsis).

Half of the bathing lakes with "good" or "very good" water quality According to the current press release, the best water quality was determined by the ADAC experts at a "bathing beach in front of the Godau campsite on the southwestern shore of the Big Plöner See in Schleswig-Holstein". Here the children can splash around near the shore without any worries. With the rating "very good", the beach of Lake Plön is the test winner. The test grade "very good" was also given at 12 other measuring points and the testers rated the water quality as "good" 19 times. This means that more than half of the bathing waters examined do a good job. In addition, however, there are 15 measuring points with the test grade “sufficient” and 12 measuring points that were rated “unsafe” with the second worst ADAC rating. The same applies to the latter as to the test loser - the lido in Gaienhofen - which should urgently be tackled against the bacterial load.

Increased cleaning of contaminated bank areas is required. Therefore, the ADAC has asked the beach managers to "clean the problematic and endangered bathing and beach areas regularly and thoroughly." Regular inspection measurements should also be carried out at shorter intervals during the season, which should also include the shallow water near the shore , so the ADAC demand. According to the ADAC, if the limit values ​​are exceeded, a bathing ban must take place immediately, which could lead to difficulties in federal states such as Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, since the limit values ​​of the Federal Environment Agency have not yet been adopted here. For example, there may be a health hazard in the aquatic environment without exceeding the applicable limit values, which means that there is no legal basis for a bathing ban. However, the municipalities concerned have shown themselves cooperative with the ADAC and have promised to intensively clean the contaminated bank area in order to reduce the existing germ concentration. (fp)

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Image: Jürgen Hüsmert /

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