Beijing's hot spring resort operators fought back yesterday against city health officials' claims that more than 70 per cent of the city's resorts failed hygiene tests, saying it was not fair to test the water using swimming pool standards.
The Beijing Health Institution said on Tuesday that it had taken 22 water samples from hot spring resorts around the city and found that only 27.3 per cent met standards for bacteria, local media reported.
The reports named seven resort operators as having 2,000-3,000 bacteria per litre while the standard allowed only a maximum of 1,000.
The report said the resorts were also tested for colon bacillus, an indicator of faecal contamination, but did not mention whether any of them failed the category.
But resort operators are challenging whether the test results were justified given the standards imposed were for swimming pools.
A spokesman of Fengshan BMG Hot Spring Resort, one of the resorts on the disgraced list, said it was not appropriate to compare hot spring water with swimming pool water standards.
'We are not trying to deny our responsibility to increase the hygiene of the resort, but people come to the hot spring for the materials inside the water, like a spa treatment. We even put traditional Chinese medicine in the water. It's totally different from a swimming pool,' the spokesman said.
'You can't apply swimming pool standards to hot springs, just like you can't judge swimming pools by drinking water standards.'
The spokesman said his resort would contact the authorities about more suitable standards and called for the introduction of a water quality standard for hot spring resorts.
An official with Changping district Health Inspection Centre said he understood the practical issues of regulating hot spring water quality with swimming pool standards, but could not really do anything else until the introduction of a new standard.
'More and more people are going to those resorts and we surely need to make sure the water is safe for them, but it's difficult to do in practice because of the absence of a standard,' the official said.
The centre tested waters taken in 10 resorts in its district and found eight failed the bacteria standard.
'Of course we understand the density of people in the [pools and spas] is different and the standard cannot be the same,' he said.
The official said it would take time to introduce a standard specifically for hot spring resorts because of the complicated procedures involved.