Germophobia? - Just give it a reasonable thought

As published in past articles of Alert Diver, microbes from different sources, transmitted via diving equipment, can be a true threat to scuba divers.

In fact, rented equipment and rinsing tanks can pool a high load of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and amoebas with the potential to spread diseases.

Don’t think dive centers use bactericides in their rinsing tanks - because they probably don’t

Or let's put it this way: some may, some may not. And even if they did, after 20 divers have put their equipment into these tanks following a dive, the microbial load would simply be too high to be handled efficiently by the disinfectant.

Sinking your regulator in the same tank with other divers’ neoprene suits won't actually clean it, considering the habit of some to relieve themselves during the dive. Most dive centers provide separate rinsing tanks, one for neoprene suits and boots, one for regulators and masks, one for BCDs and so forth. But still, the microbial load will add up, the more divers put their equipment in there. As a result, a freshwater rinsing tank could quickly turn into a reservoir for a diverse circus of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Considering the somewhat “international committee of divers” on a dive boat full of tourists of mixed nationalities, these microbes may be as diverse as their carriers – and therefore hard to be treated in case of an infection.

In times of global concerns about an ever growing microbial resistance against antibiotics – once an effective weapon against human pathogenic bacteria – this should make us think. Many great diving spots are located in less developed countries with lower hygienic, sanitary and health standards. In some countries you just can't drink tap water, so why would you rinse your regulator or your BCD bladder using the same water?

Rinsing tanks are actually there to protect the equipment from the corrosive effect of seawater, they cannot primarily protect against microbes. So you should simply rinse all your diving equipment separately with a hose and hang it somewhere to let it dry properly. If it is your own equipment, you can of course use disinfectants recommended by the manufacturer.
If the equipment is rented, you just have to rely on the dive center to clean it properly (which might happen, or not).

Why do we rinse diving equipment in freshwater tanks?

We mainly do this after diving in seawater. Salt has a very corrosive effect on all kinds of materials. In order to keep the equipment intact for as long as possible, we should rinse the salt off as best as we can.

Therefore, disinfecting is something that needs to be done additionally.

What can you do to protect yourself from infections transmitted through the use of rental equipment?    

First of all, you could use your own equipment and not share it with others - spouses excluded, for obvious reasons – and avoid using rinsing tanks that have been overused by many. You could also ask for a fresh refill, if the dive center doesn't do it anyway – many do. This concerns mainly mask, snorkel, regulator, BCD, neoprene suit, any equipment coming into contact with your mucous membranes. It can also be useful to use your own scuba tank and boots.

Remember, when using your own equipment, you are the sole user and therefore the sole contaminator. This way you can reduce the possibility of another person passing on pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi) to you.

And, dear instructors and dive masters, if you have to try your student's regulator for demonstrative purposes or checking on equipment malfunctioning above water, then at least rinse it quickly before returning it to the student to avoid icky moments and/or spreading germs.

The BCD bladder - Clean it and disinfect it thoroughly

A BCD needs regular care. The bladder needs to be cleaned and disinfected also on the inside with a solution especially made for this purpose. A disinfectant can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, which could originate from breathing air into your BCD, storing it in a warm place when it is still humid, or from other sources of contamination. Especially the BCD bladder and the oral inflator hose are prone to fungi and bacterial growth. Keep in mind that if you are using rental equipment, others may have blown in the BCD. Bladders that have not been maintained very well may grow a lot of fungi inside, so be aware of the fact that breathing from it may cause severe upper respiratory infections. Under normal circumstances, never breathe from a BCD.
After disinfecting the BCD bladder with disinfectant and rinsing it for several times with clean freshwater, it should be stored in a cool and dry place and with valves open.

As said, you won't probably be able to change things if you use rental equipments, but you can certainly take care of your own equipment!

Regulator, mask, snorkel, boots

Just apply disinfectant on the outer parts of the mouthpiece, then rinse with freshwater. Allow the regulator to dry off completely by hanging it up in a cool and dry place. Do not store it curled up in a bag. Mask, snorkel, boots can be disinfected and rinsed similarly.

Use disinfectants properly – read instructions first

Disinfecting or sanitising the equipment must be done properly, in order not to damage the equipment, which could then put you in even greater danger. Don’t soak for too long, and again, rinse thoroughly with freshwater after use. Read instructions carefully.

To put it in a nutshell

  • Own your own equipment – at least the essential parts that come into contact with your mucous membranes, the easiest barrier for pathogens to overcome.
  • Use a recommended disinfectant and read the instructions for use first.
  • Remove bacteria, viruses, and fungi by using a disinfectant which can actually kill them (e.g., EW80 des or any equivalent product recommended by the manufacturer of your dive equipment or your favorite dive shop).
  • Always dry off your equipment in a well ventilated, cool and dry area. Damp equipment stored in a dive bag is a great place for growing fungi. Storage in warm, humid places enhances bacterial growth.
  • Under normal circumstances, never breathe from a BCD
  • You can also wash your neoprene suit with a light detergent and soak it in disinfecting solution
  • In case of rental equipment, choose the dive center wisely. If you feel it’s unhygienic, find another one and dive with someone else.
Posted in
Tagged with

Categories

 2020
 2019
 2018
 2016
immersion and bubble formation Accidents Acid reflux Acute ailments After anaesthesia Air Quality Air exchange centre Air hose failure Airway control Alert Diver Magazine Alternative gas mix Altitude changes Altitude sickness Aluminium Oxide Ama divers Amino acids Anaerobic Metabolism Annual renewal Apnea Apnoea Archaeology Arterial gas embolism Arthroscopic surgery Aspirin Aurel hygiene BCD BHP BLS Back adjustment Back pain Back treatment Backextensors Badages Bag valve mask Bahamas Balancing Bandaids Barbell back squat Barometric pressure Barotrauma Basic Life Support Batteries Bench press Benign prostate hyperplasia Beth Neale Black Blood flow Blue Wilderness Blurred vision Boat safety Bone fractures Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Bradycardia Brain Breast Cancer Breath Hold Diving Breath hold Breath-hold Breathing Gas Breathing Breathold diving Broken bones Bruising Bubbleformation Buddy Exercise Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CMAS CO2 COVID-19 COVID CPR Cabin pressure Caissons diseas Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cannabis and diving Cannabis Cape Town Dive Festival Cape Town CapeTown Carbon dioxide Cardio health Cardiological Cardiomyopathy Chamber Safety Chamber science Charging batteries Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Charlie Warland Chemotherapy Chest compressions Chiropractic Citizen Conservation Cleaning products Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care ColdWater Cold Commercial diving Commercial schools Compressed gas Consercation Conservation Contaminants Contaminated air Coral Conservation Coral Reefs Corals Core strength Corona virus Courtactions Crohns disease Crowns Crystal build up Crystallizing hoses Cutaneous decompression DAN Courses DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN members DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS theories DCS DEMP DM training DNA DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Danel Wenzel Dauin island Deco dives Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression Stress Decompression illsnes Decompression treatment Decompression Deep diving Deep water exploration Delayed Offgassing Dental Diaphragms Diseases Dive Chamber Dive Computer Dive Destinations Dive H Dive Industry Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive Medical Form Dive Pros Dive Research Dive South Africa Dive Training Dive Travel Dive accidents Dive buddies Dive computers Dive excursions Dive fitness Dive gear Dive heallth Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive operators Dive planning Dive safety Dive safe Dive staff DiveLIVE Diveleader training Diveleaders Diver Health Diver Profile Diver infliencers Diver on surface Divers Alert Diving Divas Diving Kids Diving Trauma Diving career Diving emergencies Diving emergency management Diving fit Diving guidelines Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Dizziness Dolphins Domestic Donation Dowels Dr Rob Schneider Drysuit diving Drysuit valves Drysuits Dyperbaric medicines EAPs EAP Ear pressure Ear wax Ears injuries Eco friendly Education Electronic Emergency action planning Emergency decompression Emergency plans Emergency underwater Oxygen Recompression Emergency Enviromental Protection Environmental factors Environmental impact Environmental managment Equalisation Equipment care Evacuations Evacuation Evaluations Even Breath Exercise Exhaustion Extended divetime Extinguisher Extreme treatments Eye injuries FAQ Failures Fatigue Faulty equipment Female divers Fillings Fire Coral Fire Safety Firefighting First Aid Equipment First Aid Kit First Aid Training First Aid kits Fish Identification Fish Fitness Training Fitness to dive Fitness Flying Fractures Francois Burman Fredive Free Student cover Free diving Free flow Freedive INstructor Freedive Training Freediver Freediving performance Freediving Gas Density Gas laws Gas mixes GasPerformance Gases Gastoeusophagus Gastric bypass Gastroenterologist Gear Servicing Gordon Hiles Great White Sharks Gutt irritations HCV HELP HIRA HMS Britanica Haemorhoid treatment Hazard Description Hazardous Marine life Hazardous marinelife Health practitioner Heart Attack Heart Health Heart Rate monitor Heart rates Heart rate Heart Heat stress Helium Hepatitis C Hepatitus B High temperatures Hip strength Hip surgery Hippocampus History Hot Humans Hydrate Hydration Hydrogen Hydroids Hydrostatic pressure Hyperbaric Chamber Hyperbaric research Hyperbarics Hypothermia Hypoxia IdentiFin Immersion Immine systems In Water Recompression Indemnity form Indian Ocean Indonesia Inert gas Infections Injections Instinct Instruction Instructors Insurance Integrated Physiology International travel International Interval training Irritation Joint pain KZN South Coast Kidneys Kids scubadiver KwaZulu Natal Labour laws Laryngospasm Lauren Arthur Learning to dive Legal advice Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Liability releases Liability Life expectancy Lifestyle Lightroom editing Live aboard diving Liver Toxicity Liver diseas Low blood pressure Low pressure deterioration Low volume masks Lung Irritation Lung function Lung injuries Lung squeeze Lung surgery Lung MOD Maintenance Malaria Mammalian Dive Response Mammalian effect Marine Biology Marine Scientists Marine conservation Marine parks Marinelife Master scuba diver Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical emergencies Medical questionaire Medical statement Medication Mehgan Heaney-Grier Mermaid Danii Mesophotic Middle ear pressure Mike Bartick Military front press Mixed Gas Mono Fins Mooring lines More pressure Motion sickness Mozambique Muscle pain Mycobacterium marinum Nausea Nautilus Neck pain Neurological assessments Nitrogen build up Nitrox No-decompression Non-rebreather Mask Normal Air Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean Research Ocean pollution Open water divers Orbital implants Oronasal mask Osteonecrosis Out and about Outreach Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deficit Oxygen deicit Oxygen dificiency Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy Oxygen P J Prinsloo PFI PJP Tech Part 3 Partner Training Philippine Islands Philippines Phillipines Photography Physioball Physiotherapy Pills Pistons Planning Plastic Pneumonia Pneumothorax Poison Pollution Pool Diving Post-dive Pre-dive Preparation Prepared diver Press Release Professional rights Provider course Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Pulmonary Edema Pulse Punture wounds Pure Apnea Purge RAID South Africa RCAP REEF Radio communications Range of motion Rashes Rebreather diving Rechargeable batteries. Recompression chamber Recompression treatment Recompression Recycle Reef Conservation Reef surveyors Regulator failure Regulators Regulator Remote areas Renewable Report incidents Rescue Procedure Rescue breathing Rescue breaths Rescue training Rescue Resume diving Risk Assessments Risk assesments Risk assessment Risk elements Risk management SABS 019 SafariLive Safety Stop Safety SaherSafe Barrier Salty Wanderer Sanitising Sara Andreotti Saturation Diving Save our seas Science Scombroid Poisoning Scuba Air Quality Scuba Injury Scuba Instructor Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Sea Horses Sealife Shark Protection Shark Research Shark conservation Shark diving Sharks Shoulder strength Sideplank Signs and Symptoms Sit-ups Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Snorkels Sodwana Bay Solomon Islands South Africa Spinal pain Splits Squeezes Stability exercise Standars Stay Fit Stents Step ups Stroke Submerged Sudafed Sulawesi Supplemental oxygen Surface supplied Air Surfaced Surgeries Surgery Suspension training TRavel safety Tabata protocol Tattoes Technical Diving The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Tips and trick Tooth squeeze Transplants Travel smarter Travel tips Travel Tropical Coastal Management Tunnelling Tweezers Ultrsound Umkomaas Unconsciousness Underground work Underwater hockey Underwater photographer Underwater photography Underwater pho University of Stellenbosch Urinary retention. Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vape Vaping Vasopressors Vasvagal Syncope Venting Virus infections Volatile fuels Washout treatments Wastewater Water Resistance Water Weakness Weigang Xu West Papua Wet diving bell Wetsuit fitting Wetsuits White balance Wide angles Winter Woman in diving Women In Diving SA Women in diving Work of Breathing Workout Wound dressings Wreck divers Wreck dive Wreckdiving Wrecks Yoga Youth diver Zandile Ndholvu Zoology abrasion acoustic neuroma excision air-cushioned alert diver altitude anemia antibiotics antiseptics bandages barodontalgia bent-over barbell rows bioassays body art breathing air calories burn carbon dioxide toxicity cardiovascular cerebrospinal fluid checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants decongestion dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver in distress diver rescue diver training dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits drowning dry mucous membranes dry suits dry e-cigarettes ear spaces elearning electrolyte imbalance electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalising equalizing exposure injuries eyes fEMAL DIVERS fire rescue fitnes flexible tubing frediving freedivers gas bubble gas poisoning gastric acid gene expression health heartburn histidine hospital humidity immersion and bubble formation immersion pulmonary edema (IPE jaundice join DAN knee longevity lower stress malaise marine pathogens medical issues medical procedures medical risk assesment medications mental challenge micro-organisims minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal near drowning nematocysts neurological newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre operations orthopeadic outgas pain perforation phillippines physical challenges pinched nerves plasters polyester-TPU polyether-TPU post dive posture preserve prevention psychoactive pulmunary barotrauma rebreather mask rebreathers retinal detachment risk areas safety stops saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections smoking snorkeling. spearfishing sterilising stings strength sub-aquatic swimmers ears tattoo care tecnical diver thermal protection toxicity training trimix unified standards vision impaired warmers water quality