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Plastic Fiber in Toronto Pool May Be Public Health Risk

Jason Scott

Plastic fibers from a fraying pool liner found floating in the popular Alex Duff outdoor swimming pools at Toronto’s Christie Pits could pose a risk public safety.

As the Globe and Mail reports, strands of clear plastic were found floating in and on the surface of the water. Swimmers found it tangled around their legs, and left clumps of the stuff around the deck as they exited the pool. Two weeks after the fibers started appearing, the pool was closed to the public and drained.

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“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 20-year career,” said Aydin Sarrafzadeh, city aquatics manager. “It’s certainly a hazardous environment to swim in.”

The pool was drained on July 15, and remained closed for two weeks while maintenance staff applied a sealant to the entire pool to mat down the plastic fibers. After a July 28 visit from health inspector Sam El-Hajjeh, the pool was re-filled and re-opened to the public.

El-Hajjeh allowed the pool to re-open despite fibers remaining in the pool’s skimmer baskets, but recommended that the baskets be checked and cleaned every half hour to determine if the issue continued or worsened.

No public notice to inform swimmers of potential risk was posted, despite the fibers from the pool liner possibly containing harmful toxins. Older pool liners made of fiberglass or PVC could include styrenes, phthalates, and heavy metals like lead. The chemical composition of the liner at Christie Pits is unknown due to incomplete records.

Toronto Public Health manager Mahesh Patel said that the parks department is not required to inform Toronto Public Health about potential health risks. Outdoor pools are inspected only twice a season, and any additional inspection requires flagging from the public.

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