RIVM Rapport 289202001
Health complaints may occur after swimming in feacally polluted surface water that complies with the microbial water quality standards. To give the Dutch standards a scientific base and to determine whether existing standards should be made more stringent, research into the relationship between microbial water quality and the occurrence of health complaints should be carried out. To explore the merit and feasibility of such an investigation among endurance competitions, a feasibility study was undertaken among 314 participants of the quarter triathlon in Ammerstol (the water exposed population) and 81 participants of the Run-Bike-Run competition in Borne (the control population), both held at August 29th 1992. Information on the occurrence of health complaints during and in the week after the competition day was obtained by the use of a postal questionnaire. On the competition day the swimming water of the triathlon was sampled to examine the microbial quality. The results showed that the triathletes and Run-Bike-Run athletes were comparable with respect to other factors except exposure to water that may influence the occurrence of health complaints. In the week after the race health complaints (e.g. gastrointestinal symptoms, respiratory symptoms and skin/mucosal complaints) were reported by 14,8% of the triathletes and 7,4% of the Run-Bike-Run athletes. At the time of the triathlon the microbial quality of the swimming water complied with the Dutch standards. It was concluded that for studying the relationship between microbial water quality and health complaints a study among triathletes and Run-Bike-Run athletes is feasible. This study will be carried out in the summer of 1993.