Thanks to a study released by the Center of Disease Control, it’s likely no one will ever swim in a public pool again. Ever.
The colorful report, first released in 2013 and tweeted out by the CDC again this week in the wake of pool season, highlights the disturbing effect that human urine, feces, and sweat can have on pool-goers. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that everyone pees in the pool, and chlorine is a scapegoat.
1. Close Your Mouth
If you catch an outbreak after time spent in the pool, it’s possibly because someone has diarrhea and you opened your mouth:
“Most outbreaks are linked to the water we swim, relax, and play in are outbreak of diarrhea,” the CDC’s report said. “These germs – sometimes millions at a time – can spread when someone who is sick has diarrhea in the water. Other people can get sick if they swallow the germy water – even just a mouthful.” Gross.
2. Don’t Be Part of the Problem
When you pee, poop, and sweat in a pool, you’re essentially rendering the chlorine ineffective. The cleaning chemical becomes so focused on trying to break down these new germs that it loses its strength and fails to do its intended job of fighting other germs.
3. Red Eyes Aren’t from Chlorine
If you’re eyes are itchy and bloodshot from being in the pool to long, don’t blame it on the chlorine. This happens when chlorine mixes with the germs released from your body; this caustic cocktail of cleaning chemicals and human waste is also the reason why people sometimes come down with a runny nose, or a cough after spending a few hours in the pool.
4. Neither is the Familiar Pool Smell
That unmistakable, pungent “chlorine” scent reminiscent of a public school isn’t the result of some over-eager pool boy – it’s because everyone is peeing, pooping, and sweating. That mixture of human stuff combined with chemicals like chlorine and bromide creates the familiar smell of what is usually assumed to be an over-treated pool. This smell will be absent from pools, hot tubs, and water parks considered “healthy.”
5. It Actually Gets Worse
Irritated eyes and a runny nose aren’t the worst of it. If you come into contact with enough germs while in the water, you could end up with skin, ear, and/or lung infections.