Have you ever emerged from a swimming pool rubbing your eyes because they felt irritated? If so, you may have been told by a parent or friend that your eyes were irritated because there was too much chlorine in the pool. But, this is not the case.
The belief that too much chlorine is the cause of your irritated and red eyes is an urban legend. In fact, if you didn’t know, the reason that you are experiencing these symptoms is because the chlorine has reacted with organic substances (such as sweat, urine, and other bodily fluids) to produce chloramines. Chloramines, which are also responsible for the “chlorine” smell that a swimming pool gives off, are the things that cause eye irritation, and in the worst case scenario, respiratory issues.
If you wish to protect yourself, friends, and family members from having irritated/red eyes and germs, it is important that you have proper hygiene, and encourage others to have it, as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while pool chemicals, such as bromine and chlorine, are added to pool water to eliminate germs, it often only “breaks down” organic substances. Most of the time this is because it is too busy battling other things such as E. coli, salmonella, and various viruses. Whatever the case, if you relieve yourself in the pool, or neglect to take a shower before you take a swim, it is possible that you will negatively impact the effectiveness of the chlorine, and cause others to get sick.
A lot of the time, we share our swimming pools with loved ones and friends, so it is important to remember that you do your part in keeping everyone healthy. If you are getting ready for the next summer swimming season and/or taking a dive in a local indoor pool, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Take a shower and/or let everyone you are with know that they should take a shower before stepping foot in a pool.
- Wash your hands before and after using the restroom even though you will be headed back in the pool.
- Encourage everyone to take a bathroom break as needed instead of going in the pool.
By keeping these tips in mind, practicing good hygiene, and encouraging others to do so, you and everyone in your party will help prevent irritated and bloodshot eyes.