Remember all those times in your life when you swam in a pool, opened your eyes underwater, and came out with bloodshot eyes? Your memory of those moments is now about to change forever, thanks to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which just released a brand new report on the health implications associated with swimming. As it turns out, those red eyes are not caused by chlorine at all — they are caused when urine in the water mixes with the chlorine to produce a nasty ammonia derivative known as chloramine — yes, it’s pee that’s making your eyes go red.
“When we go swimming and we complain that our eyes are red, it’s because swimmers have peed in the water,” says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s healthy swimming program. “The nitrogen in the urine combines with the chlorine and it forms what’s known as chloramine and it’s actually chloramine that causes the red eyes. It’s not the chlorine itself. It’s chlorine mixed with poop and sweat and a lot of other things we bring into the water with us.” As a matter of fact, chlorine doesn’t do a thing to kill the pee in your water — it’s too busy breaking down poop, sweat, E. coli, and other germs. Even more concerning, cryptosporidium (the germ that causes diarrhea) can survive in chlorinated water for ten days. To keep things under some sort of control Hlavsa advises pool owners to buy a pool tester. “You can get them at big box stores, pool supply stores and hardware stores. You’re looking at both the chlorine level and the pH. The chlorine level you’re looking for is 1 to 3 ppm. The pH should be between 7.2 to 7.8. The pH is important because it determines how effective that chlorine is.”
You can read the CDC’s Swimming Report by visiting CDC.gov. And someone needs to forward this to Henry Gamble’s parents. After watching the trailer I’m guessing there’s a whole lot more in that family’s pool than just pee. (Photo courtesy of Lethbridge.ca)