For dedicated lap swimmers, families with children, or anyone who likes to splash around, indoor pools turn swimming from a summer pastime into a year-round passion. People love indoor pools, which is why you can find them in hotels, gyms, and neighborhood recreation centers. Add a sauna, shower, and locker room, and your indoor pool morphs into a value-added luxury retreat.
But all the water and steam welcomes an uninvited guest: mold. Unsightly, smelly, and toxic, even a little bit of mold can drive patrons away. Knowing how to prevent mold in your indoor pool areas will protect swimmers and safeguard your valuable investment.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus, and while there are many strains, certain types including toxic black mold (formally known as Stachypotrys chartarum) can cause serious illness in otherwise healthy people, according to Prevention Magazine. While an infestation of this type of mold is fairly rare, the article points out that "all molds can potentially cause rashes, headaches, dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions (like hay fever), and asthma attacks. In people with weakened immune systems, [mold] can cause serious lung infections."
Most strains of mold all give off a telltale, musty odor, and while black mold is particularly noticeable, fungus can also be brown, green, yellow, or pink. No matter the hue, however, all mold should be considered dangerous.
Why Is Mold Growing There?
Mold needs three things to thrive: moisture, warmth, and organic matter to feed on—all of which can be found in your indoor pool, sauna, shower, and locker room. Because of this, you need to fight mold growth as early as the design phase. For instance, Liberty Building Forensics Group explains that proper ventilation will keep the relative humidity below 70 percent and is necessary to keep mold from forming in wall and ceiling cavities.
Even if your structure is well designed with no leaking pipes and controlled humidity, the fungus can still grow. Mold loves unclean conditions and will form on dust, grime, soap scum, and leftover food scraps. This means you—and your guests—can find it in the shower area, on the sauna floor, benches and walls, and even on the lockers.
Get It Off Me!
Any visible mold found on a hard surface requires immediate removal. Maintenance staff should scrub the area with a stiff brush and diluted bleach solution while wearing goggles, rubber gloves, and possibly a respirator for safety. If mold has infiltrated any porous materials, it's best practice to throw the object out, as it is nearly impossible to remove fungus from materials like wallpaper, ceiling tiles, or carpeting, according to Prevention.
Of course, scrupulous daily cleaning is how to prevent mold from forming in the first place. Using an ordinary mop and bucket might do more harm than good, as the technology spreads soils around and leaves surfaces wet. A no-touch cleaning system is a better option, as it removes dirt and moisture to keep mold from growing in the first place.
Click here for more information on cleaning products that will help you prevent the spread of disease in your facility.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.