According to Michael Phelps everyone peels in the pool. “Chlorine kills it so it’s not bad,” he says. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most decorated Olympian of all time is very, very wrong.
Yes, chlorine is added to water to prevent the spread of germs. But the CDC says it’s still susceptible to what comes off of swimmers’ bodies. Think: urine, fecal matter, sweat, dirt, deodorant, and makeup. These contaminants can decrease the amount of chlorine that kills germs and create chloramines (chemical irritants).
Pools that don’t have a strong chemical smell are mostly like healthy chlorinated pools. But if you think you’re smelling “chlorine,” you’re probably smelling chloramines. Indoor pools are often a major problem because they’re not as ventilated.
It’s not just gross to think about—chloramine can lead to negative health effects. Breathing it in or coming into contact with it can lead to:
- Nasal irritation, coughing, wheezing
- Triggered asthma attacks
- Red, itchy eyes
- Skin irritation and rashes
To prevent chloramines, the CDC says you should never swim if you’re sick with diarrhea. (Which kind of seems like a no-brainer.) They also suggest rinsing off in the shower before diving in and wearing a bathing cap. Also, you should never pee in the pool. Sorry, Michael.