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Industry experts bust colourful myths on peeing in the pool

Crowded Pool
Experts from three different health and safety groups have teamed up to encourage bather cleanliness in swimming pools and hot tubs.

As the swimming season gears up, experts from three different health and safety groups have joined forces to launch a campaign to stop people from peeing in the pool.

To do so, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Water Quality and Health Council, and the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) are busting a couple of colourful myths associated with this clandestine activity.

According to a survey conducted by Survata on behalf of the Water Quality and Health Council, nearly half of those surveyed incorrectly believe there is a chemical that is added to pools that turns a conspicuous colour in the presence of urine. In the same survey, 71 per cent also incorrectly blame chlorine for causing swimmers’ eyes to become red and irritated.

“Chlorine and other disinfectants are added to pool water to destroy germs. Peeing in a pool depletes chlorine and actually produces an irritant that makes people’s eyes turn red,” says Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “It isn’t rocket science; it’s common courtesy. Swimmers should use the pool to swim, the restroom to pee, and the showers to wash up before getting in the pool.”

There is no dye that turns red; it is the eyes that turn red, Thomas M. Lachocki, NSPF CEO adds. Swimmers’ eyes are the real colour indicator that someone might have peed in a pool.

“And, the ‘chlorine’ smell isn’t actually chlorine,” says Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality and Health Council. “What people smell is chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with pee, sweat, and dirt from swimmers’ bodies.

“These chemicals—not chlorine—can cause bathers’ eyes to become red and sting, their nose to run, as well as make them cough.”

To support these efforts, the CDC and the American Chemistry Council also have collaborated on a brochure that includes key messages about healthy swimming. To download a PDF of the brochure, click here.

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