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That strong chemical smell from pool is chlorine plus urine

Aug. 24, 2013 at 5:43 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- That whiff of strong chemical smell from a pool is not chlorine, it's the result of chlorine mixing with urine and sweat from swimmers, U.S. officials say.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said when chlorine combines with the urine and sweat off swimmers' bodies it creates di‐ and tri‐chloramines, which irritate the eyes and respiratory tract and can even aggravate asthma. Chloramines also give pools a strong chemical smell.

"Recently, popular Olympic swimmers publicly admitted to peeing in the pool. They laughed about it, and comedians joked about it. But, really, where else is it acceptable to publicly urinate? Mixing chlorine and urine not only creates di‐ and tri‐chloramines -- it also uses up the chlorine in the pool, which would otherwise kill germs," the CDC says in a statement.

"These germs get into the water when they wash off of swimmers' bodies or when infected swimmers have diarrheal incidents in the water. Just one diarrheal incident can release enough germs into the water that swallowing a mouthful can cause diarrhea lasting up to two to three weeks."

Even when the levels of chlorine and other pool water treatments are well maintained, they don't kill germs instantly. Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, the leading cause of disease outbreaks linked to pools, can

survive in a properly chlorinated pool for 10 days, the CDC says.

To keep the poop and pee out of the water, the CDC says:

-- Never swim with diarrhea.

-- Always shower with soap before using a pool.

-- Take a rinse shower before getting back into the water.

-- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.

-- Wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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