Showers At Public Pools Are There For A Reason. Use Them

by Mike Julianelle
Originally Published: 
image via shutterstock

If your swimming pool smells like chemicals, it isn’t clean

Thanks to some surprising news from the Center for Disease Control, parents are going to have to face some hard truths about swimming pools this summer.

According to Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, an epidemiologist and the chief of Healthy Swimming and Waterborne Disease Prevention at the CDC, everything we thought we knew about the chemicals in swimming pools is wrong. That smell most of us have always attributed to chlorine is actually a reaction to all the filth we and our children are bringing into the water every time we jump in.

Apparently, a clean pool isn’t supposed to smell like that. A clean pool is supposed to smell, well, clean. That chemical smell is actually something called chloramines, and they are a result of the oils, sweat, dirt, and, you guessed it, feces on our skin – all of which contain nitrogen. When the nitrogen combines with the chlorine in the pool, the reaction creates chloramines, irritants that are not only responsible for that smell, but are also the cause of the red eyes you get after swimming underwater.

Hlavsa suggests showering before you jump into the pool, as well as after. “If we don’t shower before we get in the water, we’re going to carry in whatever’s sitting on our skin.” Not only does that chemical smell manifest once the junk we carry into the pool interacts with the chlorine, the chlorine that the pool needs to keep itself clean suddenly gets tied up fighting off chloramines.

In short, we’re ruining everything.

It’s tempting to use the pool in place of a bath, partially because kids want to get in the pool, and parents don’t want to give baths. I’m at my parents’ house this weekend, and they have a pool. Not only am I happy to let my five-year-old use it as a bath, I’d let him eat and sleep in it too, if it meant less work for me. It’s convenient to assume the pool serves the same purpose as a bath or shower, but in actuality, not only is the pool not cleaning our kids, our kids are dirtying up the pool. But what else is new.

We can take all the pre-swimming showers we want, our kids are just gonna pee in the pool anyway.

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