We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day at the pool, and your kids come out looking like they’ve all come down with a case of pink eye. They also complain their eyes are burning. As parents, we’ve just come to accept it’s because of the chlorine, and since chlorine is necessary to keep the water the clean it’s a discomfort we endure.
However, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s not the chlorine in a swimming pool that makes your eyes burn after a swim – it’s the pee. Are you thinking twice about wearing goggles now?
Chlorine actually binds to urine and sweat (and other waste) in a pool, and the chemical by-product of this reaction is what irritates us. The reaction also carries to the surrounding air of indoor pools which can cause coughing and wheezing in some people, and can also create sensitivity to fungi and bacteria.
These reactions can be managed with better air turnover and well maintained ventilation systems throughout the pool area. Something that many indoor pools can improve on.
Does chlorine kill all germs? Yes and no. “Any germs present in the pool can actually take some time to be destroyed in the presence of chlorine. While the parasite Cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea, can take over 10 days to be killed off, the bacteria E. coli is completely eliminated in less than a minute.”
This is why it’s so important to shower before entering a public pool. Associate director of the CDC’s Healthy Water program Dr. Michael Beach reports that disease outbreaks from public pools are on the rise and stems from those suffering from diarrhea. They don’t have to physically defecate in the pool to infect others. Simply having germs anywhere on their body potentially spreads it to everyone else in the water.
If we haven’t scarred you for life, and you still want to hang out at public pools this summer, here are some more tips to keep you and your family safe!