Everybody who has ever used a traditional, chlorine treated pool has probably experienced itchy skin or irritated, reddened eyes has at some point and wondered if the chlorine was to blame. Or maybe you have color-treated hair and have been afraid to use a public pool in case the high levels of chlorine make it turn green.
These are just some of the various myths that have surrounded swimming pools for years, and we’re here to set you straight!
Myth: Chlorine in a pool may cause your hair to turn green.
Fact: While swimming has been known to make lighter hair change color, it’s not actually a result of the chlorine at all.
The green tint long associated with over-chlorinated pools is actually caused by metals present in the water that have been leached from the pool plumbing and fixture or added to control algae-growth. Preventing this color change is simple: wear a swimming cap or thoroughly rinse your hair after leaving the pool before gently shampooing to remove the chemicals and metals.
Myth: Red eyes and irritated skin are caused by too much chlorine use.
Fact: It’s fairly common to experience red, irritated eyes after leaving the pool and, if you fail to shower shortly after swimming, itchy skin is also a common complaint. Neither of these discomforts are directly caused by the presence of chlorine in the water, but rather the tendency of swimmers to ignore the ubiquitous request to shower before entering the pool.
The reason that this is requested is to prevent swimmers from introducing contaminants into the pool which react with the chlorine to form chloramines. These chloramines cause the familiar itchiness.
Myth: Pool water is disinfected and therefore safe to drink.
Fact: While it’s true that chlorine is used to kill waterborne germs, that doesn’t mean that pool water is safe to drink. Chlorine levels within a pool will fluctuate greatly over time- especially in crowded public pools- and there are germs which do not respond to chlorine or may take longer to kill. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and remind children not to drink pool water.
Myth: The familiar chemical smell around some pools is caused by the chlorine.
Fact: Properly treated swimming pools should not have a strong chemical smell, regardless of the presence of chlorine. The odor we often recognize is actually due to the presence of those same chloramines we spoke of earlier. They are caused by the introduction of a variety of contaminants to the pool water including perspiration, urine, body oils, cosmetics, and sunscreen.
So next time you use a public pool, help keep everyone else using it healthy and rinse off before you dive in!