20 lifeguards say they developed rash from swimming at Hansen Dam Lake

LAKE VIEW TERRACE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than 20 lifeguards say they developed rashes after swimming at the Hansen Dam Lake in Lake View Terrace.

Nearly two dozen L.A. city lifeguards said the lake is infected parasites that cause bad skin rashes, and that they shouldn't be exposed to it while on the job.

"Nobody should have to get sick with welts and rashes just to do their job," said Bob Schoonover, the president of SEIU 721.

The lifeguards said they came down with swimmer's itch, and they blame it on the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Lifeguard Jasper Kim said he and other lifeguards were infected at Hansen Dam Lake in April during L.A. city's annual two-day, mandatory recertification test, an event usually held at Cabrillo Beach. This year, it was moved to Hansen Dam, which Kim says has a history of problems with parasites that trigger swimmer's itch.

"Our members, our workers voiced a concern about the quality of the water. They were assured time and time again that the water had been tested thoroughly, and that there was nothing to worry about," a union representative said.

Union reps said the city of L.A. was negligent for failing to properly test the water and for allowing a second day of tests after a number of lifeguards became infected.

"This is one of the worst cases of management negligence that I have seen in recent history," Schoonover said.

Signs are posted around the lake stating that recreational activity is not allowed until further notice. Kim says these signs are not enough.

"The public needs to know what's going on. That sign that I showed, that's not sufficed telling them there's no recreational activity. Tell them there's a parasite in the water," Kim said. "Somebody needs to get possibly a slap on the hand so that this doesn't happen again."

The Department of Recreation and Parks released a statement confirming that 20 out of 64 lifeguards received medical attention after complaining of swimmer's itch. The statement went on to say that the L.A. Sanitation Environmental Monitoring Division tested the lake on April 24, and the results indicated it was safe for public use. The department added that it is requesting additional testing on the lake.
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