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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 May;114(5):712-7.

A survey of diving behaviour and accidental water ingestion among Dutch occupational and sport divers to assess the risk of infection with waterborne pathogenic microorganisms.

Author information

1
Microbiological Laboratory for Health Protection, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, the Netherlands. jack.schijven@rivm.nl

Abstract

Divers may run a higher risk of infection with waterborne pathogens than bathers because of more frequent and intense contact with water that may not comply with microbiologic water quality standards for bathing water. In this study we aimed to estimate the volume of water swallowed during diving as a key factor for infection risk assessment associated with diving. Using questionnaires, occupational and sport divers in the Netherlands were asked about number of dives, volume of swallowed water, and health complaints (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and ear, skin, eye, and respiratory complaints). Occupational divers, on average, swallowed 9.8 mL marine water and 5.7 mL fresh surface water per dive. Sport divers swallowed, on average, 9.0 mL marine water; 13 mL fresh recreational water; 3.2 mL river, canal, or city canal water; and 20 mL water in circulation pools. Divers swallowed less water when wearing a full face mask instead of an ordinary diving mask and even less when wearing a diving helmet. A full face mask or a diving helmet is recommended when diving in fecally contaminated water. From the volumes of swallowed water and concentrations of pathogens in fecally contaminated water, we estimated the infection risks per dive and per year to be as high as a few to up to tens of percents. This may explain why only 20% of the divers reported having none of the inquired health complaints within a period of 1 year. It is highly recommended that divers be informed about fecal contamination of the diving water.

PMID:
16675425
PMCID:
PMC1459924
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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