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 red and itchy after a swim – it’s the pee. You may want to think twice about not wearing goggles before swimming in that public pool.
Together with the Water Quality and Health Council and the National Swimming Pool Foundation, the CDC wants to let everyone know about the disgusting horrors you come into contact with when swimming.
There is a common misconception that chlorine immediately gets rid of all the nasties that people swimming in a pool may have. Associate director of the CDC’s Healthy Water program Dr. Michael Beach explains to Women's Health that "Chlorine binds with all the things it's trying to kill from your bodies, and it forms these chemical irritants. That's what's stinging your eyes. It's the chlorine binding to the urine and sweat."
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.
Speaking frankly of diarrhea, disease outbreaks from public swimming pools are on the rise, according to Beach’s research. Those that swim while experiencing diarrhea are putting others at risk. They don’t actually have to poop in the pool, but any germs on their body could potentially spread to other people in the same water. This is why the CDC strongly recommends that swimmers shower before jumping into the pool.
If this hasn’t put you off swimming for life, the CDC has also outlined simple steps that everyone can follow to prevent illness and stay healthy while swimming.