The Disgusting Truth Behind That Chlorine Smell At The Pool

Health | Did You Know

The Disgusting Truth Behind That Chlorine Smell At The Pool


Freshly cut grass, sunscreen, and chlorine are just a few smells that invoke that summer feeling in us. While the first two are harmless, there's more to that chlorine smell at the pool than you really know.

Let me share a little story with you about how I came to find out the gross truth about what we assume is just a strong-smelling chemical.

A couple of days ago, I went to swim some laps at my community center's pool. Since I have very sensitive eyes, I always wear goggles so my eyes don't get irritated. Having been in a rush to make it on time, I forgot to grab my goggles.

At that point, I decided that I already made it all the way there, so there was no way that I was going to drive back home to pick them up. Anyway, I made my way to the pool area and started my workout, and everything was as normal, until near the end.

My eyes started to burn, which I was expecting, but this time, it was a lot worse than the previous times this has happened. I skipped the last couple of laps and called it a day. When I looked into the change room mirror later, I noticed that my eyes were also abnormally red.

The stinging sensation got better when I stepped outside, so as soon as I got home, I decided to do a search on what could've caused this type of reaction. That's when I found out the disgusting piece of information that has convinced me to avoid public pools as much as possible.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Turns out, the strong smell that we all associate with chlorine is actually something worse - it's urine.

Yup, apparently we've all been swimming in pools that have too much pee. How nasty is that?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, pools across the country, especially public ones, use chlorine to ensure the water is clean and safe for swimming, however, many of them don't use nearly high enough amounts of the chemical.

When there's too little chlorine in the pool, it gets used up quickly and produces that strong smell happens when it mixes with pee, sweat, and dirt in the water.

So contrary to popular belief, the burning sensation I was experiencing during my swim was because people decided that the pool was a good place to pee, instead of taking that short walk to the bathroom.

This is not an issue that is talked about often, but the CDC says that unclean pools can lead to illness and other complications.

Chloramine, which is produced when chlorine mixes with urine, is not only an eye irritant, but has also been linked to respiratory problems. It's why you also experience a runny nose and coughing when you finish swimming. It belongs in the same family as ammonia.

The best solution is to avoid chlorine, but since many of us can't stay away from the pool, there are a few things you can do to avoid getting chloramine in your system. These include wearing swimming goggles, keeping pool water away from our mouths, and taking a rinse as soon as you get out.

The only way to stop this from occurring in the future, is for people to stop peeing in the pool or for extra chlorine to be added into the water.

Did you know this about swimming pools? Let us know!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.