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Originally published July 3 2015

Urine is why swimming pools make people's eyes red... and it could also be damaging your heart and nerves

by Jennifer Lilley

(NaturalNews) It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. It turns out they're also an indication of whether or not that public pool you've been swimming in is filled with urine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mounting evidence shows that contrary to popular belief, red, stinging eyes cannot be attributed strictly to chlorine. Instead, it's the mix of chlorine and what swimmers deposit as they enjoy the doggie paddle -- urine, sweat, dirt and even feces -- that is making your eyes look as though you haven't slept in a week. These elements result in a potent smell that leads many people to think the pool staff went heavy on the chlorine, which isn't entirely true.

"That 'chlorine' smell at the pool isn't actually chlorine," says Chris Wiant, chair of the U.S. Water Quality and Health Council. "What you smell are chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with pee, sweat and dirt from swimmers' bodies."

Recreational swimming environments can aggravate asthma, jeopardize health

Furthermore, your health is jeopardized when swimmers relieve themselves in pools in droves throughout the day. This transcends the bothersome result of stinging, red eyes; experts from the U.S. Healthy Swimming Program say that this pool mixture can create poisonous gases that wreak havoc on the nervous system, heart and lungs. In fact, the CDC notes that when chlorine "binds with sweat, urine, and other waste from swimmers," air irritants increase. Depending on the concentration and how long a person is exposed to them, everything from asthma aggravation and skin problems to neurological problems and diarrhea can develop.

However, the problem goes beyond inhaling air irritants. Researchers from Purdue University say that swimming in a public pool is a health concern because of the multiple ways it presents problems; inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption are all ways that a person can become sickened. Pool environments contain all three exposure avenues.

Three ways you're subjected to health problems in pool environments

"Swimmers are exposed to chemicals through three different routes: You can inhale, you can ingest and it can go through your skin. So the exposure you receive in a swimming pool setting is potentially much more extensive than the exposure you would receive by just one route alone," says Ernest R. Blatchley III. Blatchley, who is a professor with a joint appointment at the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University, explains that these factors can compound existing health problems or potentially play a role in the onset of new ones.

In addition to urine, dirt and sweat, the Purdue University experts also shed light on the fact that a host of pharmaceuticals exist in swimming pools. Chemicals in makeup, insect repellants and sunscreens also make their way into the pool environment, increasing a person's exposure to health-aggravating compounds.

Experts say staying safe isn't "rocket science"

Sadly, much like humorous signs that read, "I don't swim in your toilet, so don't pee in my pool," experts actually have to go out of their way to outline pool etiquette. Society has apparently become so lazy that logic and thoughtfulness have fallen by the wayside; rather than exit a pool and walk to a bathroom right around the corner, we sit in our warmth, happy that we've emptied our bladders near a game of Marco Polo.

"The solution isn't rocket science; it's common courtesy," says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program. "Swimmers should use the pool to swim, the restroom to pee and the showers to wash up before getting in the pool. It's that simple."


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