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Super Clean Swimming Pool Smell Is Actually Super Dangerous

July 20th, 2018

A lot of people enjoy the smell of a swimming pool. They relate it to something that is clean and pure, and it makes them feel comfortable getting in water that hundreds of other people have also swum in that day.

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West F Jords Source: West F Jords

If you think about it, the pools are pretty gross.

A lot of people are peeing and doing worse in the pool. Although pool chemicals are meant to kills germs and bacteria, do they really work as well as they claim or as well as we would like to believe?

The truth is, that same smell that everyone related to a clean pool can actually be dangerous. While people might think that chlorine means clean and safe, it could mean the opposite, especially if people are peeing in the pool.

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Enpundit Source: Enpundit

Peeing in the pool is a pretty common thing.

People might lie about it, but it happens. Even Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps admitted to doing it regularly. He said:

“It’s kind of a normal thing to do for swimmers. When we’re in the water for two hours, we don’t really get out to pee. Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”

In fact, he isn’t even ashamed of it and admitted that he and the other swimmers joke about it. In some aspects, he can’t even help himself. He added:

“Of course. I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go. I didn’t during the races, but I sure did in warm-up.”

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Migdale Source: Migdale

Urine may not have anything deadly in it that needs to be killed.

In fact, according to biochemist Stuart Jones:

“Urine is essentially sterile so there isn’t actually anything to kill in the first place. Urine is largely just salts and water with moderate amounts of protein and DNA breakdown products. Peeing in a swimming pool, even if all swimmers do it simultaneously, has very little impact on the composition of the pool water itself.”

That may not be entirely true, though. When urine and chlorine mix, a chemical reaction occurs. Gases are released that can aggravate asthma and cause severe respiratory diseases. The more people who are urinating, the worse it gets. This is ironic, considering that most people put more chlorine in their pool based on the number of people swimming in it.

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Science ABC Source: Science ABC

Urine isn’t the only thing that can cause these reactions.

Body oils and other bacteria and germs that live on the body can do the same. It’s been recommended by the CDC that people who are planning on swimming should shower before they get in the pool. Fewer than 30 percent of people actually do this, though.

When chlorine and urine mix, nitrogen trichloride is created. It is incredibly explosive and dangerous. Pure nitrogen trichloride is so fragile that it could explode with just a small shock or when placed in direct sunlight. While the nitrogen trichloride is mixed with water and not explosive, it can cause severe irritations to the skin, eyes, and airways.

The more chlorine in the pool, the stronger the smell. The stronger the smell, the more likely irritation can occur.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go swimming. Most city pools and pool owners know the appropriate amount of chlorine to use to keep their pools clean without making people sick. In some cases, there may be too much of the chemical in the pool, but after a day or two, the nitrogen trichloride levels are reduced again.

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Wikimedia Commons Source: Wikimedia Commons

The most important thing to take away from this is that the smell most people associate with a clean pool isn’t just the smell of the cleaning agents – it’s the smell of pee mixed with those cleaning agents.

That strong smell means there is a lot of urine in the pool. You might want to think twice before you get in. Do you really want to swim in a pool full or pee and chemicals?

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Source: IFL Science