When the trailer for the Adam Sandler movie Grown Ups
was aired on television, the scene that received the most guffaws was the one where four “grownups” were in the pool and were suddenly surrounded by dark blue blooming clouds of the mythical blue pee-detecting chemical.
I suppose it's kind of funny, but still a little creepy when you think about all the peeing that must go on in public pools. Yes, it's gross, but it happens more than you think. According to stats on public pool closures, one out of every five people relieve themselves in pools. Yikes!
Like many people, you may think urinating in the pool is safe because the chlorine will kill any bacteria anyway. Not necessarily. And even if it was true, it's not the bacteria that cause the problem. When urine is combined with chlorine, the result is formation of irritants that cause skin rashes and red eyes. Also, it's simply not sanitary.
Other pool sanitation problems.
The most common illness contracted in recreational pools is spread through diarrhea
. In addition to the bacteria E. coli
, Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhea and is found in infected stools. Since the diarrhea is very watery it could be mixing with the pool water and no one would ever know.
Also, you should always shower before you swim
because the germs on your body get in the pool water and can cause recreational water illnesses. To put it bluntly, pay attention to your lower regions as fecal matter is a major concern when it comes to germs.
While proper chlorine levels will kill bacteria such as E. coli within one minute, viruses such as hepatitis A., Giardia, and crypto
or more resistant to chlorine.
One survey found that 11 percent of adults said they have swum with a runny nose
. Seven percent admitted to swimming with an exposed rash or cut
and one percent when sick with diarrhea. Again, cold, skin, and intestinal viruses are more chorine resistant so if you have a virus stay out of the pool.
It’s true that chorine kills germs, but it doesn’t happen right away. The chorine needs time to work so the chlorine level should be between 1.0 and 3.0 parts per million. Test the level regularly because dirt, sunlight, and human sweat and urine can reduce the concentration.
In addition, the ph level affects the germ-killing power of chlorine. A higher ph means a lower germ fighting ability. The pool ph should be between 7.2 and 7.8 to balance the effect of chorine as well as minimize skin and eye irritation.
So while the myth (or blatant lie) about the water turning dark blue (or red or yellow) perpetuated by many parents and summer camp counselors may make you feel it’s safe to pee in the pool, think twice. You may not suffer the shame of being caught, but knowing you’re the 1 out of 5 people icky enough to “go” in the pool should provide at least some measure of shame.