If you thought that overwhelming “chlorine” smell meant your public pool was clean—think again. The CDC dispels this and other myths in the infographic they put together to encourage cleaner habits at public pools.
According to their research, the strong “chlorine” smell is actually the smell of chlorine working to fight off the germs and microbes in the water. That smell means the chemicals in the pool are working hard to combat all of the gunk people have brought into the water.
This infographic comes at a time when the number of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) have been rising at an alarming rate. The past two decades, in particular, have seen a major rise in the number of RWIs. Common infections include gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound contaminations and public pools are a breeding ground. A 2010 study reported that one in eight public pool inspections led to pools being closed immediately because of major code violations, one frequent violation was improper chlorine levels. Even with the right amount of chlorine in the pool, many of the worst germs in the water are resistant to the chemical.
As if that wasn't enough to keep you out of public pools for all eternity, the infographic goes on to note just exactly what the average swimmer is bringing with them into the pool. A brief rundown includes microbes (some of which are germs that can make you sick) from your hair, spit, nose, mouth and skin. Oh—and that’s just the beginning— the average swimmer also tracks in microbes from poop, pee and up to two soda cans full of sweat. Kids, predictably, bring in more poop than the average adult.
To top it all off, the CDC also estimates how much of that water you’re swallowing in 45 minutes—one tablespoon for adults and two and a half tablespoons for kids.
Their advice? Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea, shower before you enter the pool (and a shower after would be a good idea, too), don’t pee or poop in the water and—drum roll please—don’t swallow the disgusting water.