Skip to content

New Study Shows Bacterial Contamination in Rinse Tanks


A new investigative study just published by Undercurrent magazine says don’t dip your mask and regulator or there could be health consequences.
(from the June, 2009 issue of Undercurrent)

Recreational divers typically rinse their equipment in “communal” tanks filled with fresh water after completing dives. Often all the equipment (wetsuits, booties, fins, BCDs, regulators with mouthpieces and masks) is rinsed in common tanks. In some facilities, a separate tank is provided for rinsing regulators. Masks are often rinsed and even stored in a common tank on boats before a dive.

Few studies have addressed the possibility that these communal rinse tanks may harbor pathogens and transmit disease. We first reported that communal rinse tanks at a dive facility in Roatan indeed contained significant levels of many types of microorganisms (Microbe, December 2007, p. 577). However, because that dive facility did not allow us to sample the water entering rinse tanks, we were unable to determine if the microorganisms originated from the water used to fill tanks or from equipment that was rinsed in the tanks.

Recently, a report documented the spread of conjunctivitis among divers using two dive boats off of Fiji’s Vitu Levu Island (Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, 2008 vol. 35, p. 169). Among 29 divers, 14 cases (almost 50 percent) of conjunctivitis were ultimately documented. The pattern by which conjunctivitis was spread among divers and between boats was consistent with the outbreak arising from the divemaster, a Fijian resident, who reported having an eye infection prior to the outbreak and who placed his own mask in the communal mask container (Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, 2008 vol. 35, p. 169). This study established that disease can be transmitted among scuba divers via communal tanks. (Read our interview with the study’s author in our September 2008 issue.)

To read the rest of this highly informative article, click this link:


Leave a Comment