What Causes Eye Irritation In Swimming Pools? The Answer May Surprise You!

What Causes Eye Irritation In Swimming Pools? The Answer May Surprise You!

Chlorine: The Cause of Irritated Eyes of Swimmers?

From Healthy Pools

The most common misconception surrounding swimming pools is the cause for the “Chlorine” smell, eye and skin irritation, and skin disorders.  A properly chlorinated pool will not smell, will not irritate eyes, and will not be a catalyst for spreading disease.  The concept, simply put, is that chlorine has three distinct components that determine it’s killing capacity:  Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, and Combined Chlorine.  Combined Chlorine is the culprit, and is caused by the chemical reaction that occurs when chlorine actually does it’s job.  This post from Healthy Pools expounds on this concept, and busts an often perpetrated urban legend around chlorine and swimming pools.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

The belief that swimmers’ red, irritated eyes are caused by “too much chlorine in the pool” is an urban legend. The irritation is real, but it is more likely linked to poor swimmer hygiene than to high chlorine levels, a fact that surprises many.

Peeing in the Pool Can be Bad for Swimmer Health

Why Add Chlorine to Pools Anyway?

Good pool chemistry plays a key role in maintaining healthy pools for swimmers. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls chlorine and pH “the first defense against germs that can make swimmers sick.” In fact, when trace levels of chlorine are maintained in swimming pool water at the right pH, chlorine is on “guard duty” against a wide range of bacteria and viruses introduced into pools by swimmers that can cause a host of problems besides conjunctivitis, including gastrointestinal upset, swimmer’s ear and irritated skin. You can check for healthy pH and chlorine levels in your pool this summer by ordering a free pool test kit. Place your order at www.healthypools.org.

The red eye myth is linked to another swimming pool fallacy, sometimes espoused by parents of young swimmers. That fallacy is that peeing in the pool is acceptable because “the chlorine takes care of it [it being the urine].” Peeing in the pool is not unusual: one in five American adults admit to “peeing in the pool,” according to our 2009 survey. The truth is that peeing in the pool can be bad for swimmer health because chlorine reacts with urine (and also feces, sweat, body oils and cosmetics, for that matter) to form products that are irritants and potentially worse. While researchers continue to probe the health effects of these substances–known as disinfection byproducts–they all agree that better swimmer hygiene can help prevent their formation.

Four Hygiene Tips for Showing a Little Kindness to Your Fellow Swimmer:

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