I may never swim in a public pool again. A new study revealed our worst fears are true: People do indeed still pee in pools. Not only that, but they are littering the water with all kinds of other nasty germs. Here’s what you need to know.
A recent survey conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council found one in five Americans confessed to using a public pool as a public bathroom (in other words, they are too lazy to get out and use the toilet to pee). In addition, seven in 10 admitted to skipping a shower before jumping in the water, which may not sound like a big deal, until you understand what’s going in the water with them.
Sweat, cosmetics, sunscreen, perfume, hair products, bug spray and other dirt can mix with chlorine to create irritants that can cause skin rashes and red eyes.
Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program explained to CNN:
These irritants, not the chlorine itself, cause red eyes when we swim and the strong chemical smell of some pools.
And someone who doesn’t shower after taking a potty break? We shudder to think of the germs they are adding. Fecal matter is never a good thing in the pool, no matter how good of a job you think you did cleaning up afterward. This can spread things like E. coli, which lead to diarrhea and other illnesses.
Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality and Health Council added:
Swimming is not a substitute for bathing. Too many people unknowingly treat the pool as a communal bathtub. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s important to shower before you jump in the pool to help keep swimming healthy for everyone in the pool.
And contrary to popular belief, chlorine does not kill all germs, like Cryptosporidium, which is responsible for half of all gastroenteritis outbreaks.
So the answer to a gross, germ-free pool is pretty simple: Shower with soap and water before you dive in. Don’t put little kids in the pool without a swim-appropriate diaper, don’t swim when you’re sick, and tell everyone you know that the water will turn bright green around them if they dare pee in the pool (even though that’s just a myth).