You’re probably looking forward to spending your days frolicking in the water this summer. But you might find yourself thinking twice before diving head-first into a swimming pool after you’ve read this.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report revealing that it’s not actually chlorine that makes your eyes red after a swim… rather, it’s urine.
“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,” according to Dr Michael Beach of the CDC’s Healthy Water program.
And that’s not all. The chemical reaction between pee and chlorine can also irritate your lungs, leading to that familiar post-swim cough.
And just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it seems that it actually takes quite a bit of time for chlorine to eliminate certain bacteria. While E. Coli can be killed in less than a minute, Hepatitis A will take at least 16 minutes. And the Cryptosporidium parasite that can cause diarrhea? As long as ten days.
“We have a new parasitic germ that has emerged that’s immune to chlorine. We’ve got to keep it out of the pool in the first place. We need additional barriers,” Dr Beach warns.
But before this puts you off swimming for life, you’ll be glad to know that there are ways to prevent contamination. The CDC strongly encourages swimmers to shower before jumping in the pool.
Other than that, it’s all just common sense: don’t swim if you have diarrhea, and for the love of God, don’t pee or poop in the pool.