Many people have assumed for years that the burning, red eyes that sometimes follow a trip to the swimming pool is caused by chlorine. But the truth is actually much nastier, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
“Chlorine binds with all the things it’s trying to kill from your bodies, and it forms these chemical irritants. That’s what’s stinging your eyes. It’s the chlorine binding to the urine and the sweat,” Michael J. Beach, the CDC’s leader of the collaborative Healthy Swimming Program, explained.
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But while red-eye is gross, it’s just a minor downside of the compounds created when chlorine mixes with urine (and to a much lesser extent, sweat and dirt). Recent research reveals that chlorine’s reaction with two chemicals in urine—urea and uric acid—creates two poisonous gases that can hurt people’s lungs, hearts, and central nervous systems (see link above).
On top of all that, chlorine doesn’t kill some of the most insidious types of bacteria fast enough to prevent infections. For instance, a bacteria called Cryptosporidium—“Crypto” for short—can linger in chlorinated pools for days.
The news comes just in time for summer. Great.
(H/T: Women's Health)