Parents and children might want to think twice before taking a dip in their favorite public pool this summer because the red eyes that people get from swimming are not caused by chlorine.
According to an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the real cause of bloodshot eyes in the pool is a mixture of substances such as urine and sweat.
“Chlorine binds with all the things it’s trying to kill from your bodies, and it forms these chemical irritants,” the aptly named Dr. Michael J. Beach, associate director of the CDC’s Healthy Water program, told KOAT. “That’s what’s stinging your eyes. It’s the chlorine binding to the urine and sweat.”
In addition, the dye that causes the pool to change colors if somebody pees in the water does not exist.
“It’s a myth. It’s about scaring people into not urinating in the pool,” Beach added.
It also turns out that pools could be filled with people’s waste.
Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC Healthy Water program, said that a germ that causes diarrhea, cryptosporidium, can live in chlorine-treated water for 10 days.
“We don’t want to scare people away from swimming,” Hlavsa told Today. “It’s just about doing it in a healthier and safer way. We go biking and we wear helmets. We go in the car and we put our seatbelts on. We’re just saying, this is a healthier way to swim.”
The CDC’s annual healthy swimming report offers some tips for the next time you visit pools. For example, make sure to properly wash, and relieve your bladder before getting in the water.
“The solution isn’t rocket science; it’s common courtesy,” Hlavsa said, according to The Independent. “Swimmers should use the pool to swim, the restroom to pee and the showers to wash up before getting in the pool. It’s that simple.”