Don’t put all the blame on chlorine when your eyes turn red and get irritated from swimming in a pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its annual swimming report and it includes that the combination of the pool’s chemicals along with swimmers’ urine, sweat and excrement as well as dirt are the leading cause of your eyes turning red in the pool or burning.
Chlorine has always been the main suspect when it comes to why your eyes are burning red during or after a swim, but according to 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.”
When dirt, sweat, and bodily waste enters the pool, it forces the chemicals in your water to put their focus on breaking these new foreign substances them down first, which uses up all of their strength, letting the other germs survive. This then leads to the germs to infect the eyes.
The CDC recommends following these 4 steps to help keep the germs out of the water so that you and others can enjoy a healthy swim:
Most outbreaks caused by germs like Cryptosporidium (Crypto), norovirus, and E. Coli are spread by someone who is sick with diarrhea.
Showering for 1 minute before your swim will remove most of the dirt and other particles on your body that uses up pool chemicals.
Swim diapers and swim pants can only hold in solid excrement for a few minutes. They will not stop the germs or diarrhea from getting into the water.
Remember that the pool water contains chlorine and other chemicals. It can also include dirt, germs and body waste from other swimmers. Swallowing the water can make you sick.
When bringing the little ones to the pool, please remember to take them for a bathroom break once every hour. Also check diapers. If diapers need changing, change them in the bathroom or changing area. Never poolside! Changing them as far away from the pool will decrease the risk of germs getting into the water.
Following the 4 steps above will help everyone enjoy a healthy and safe swim in the pool.