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  • Writer's pictureHifza Farooqi

Are public pools sanitary?

Hifza adopts an honest stance on whether public pools are sanitary, and discusses true, yet unpleasant, facts regarding pool safety.

Many people go out to public pools especially as the warmer months loom on the horizon. However, what goes unnoticed is the lack of sanitation within those pools. According to a study by Swim University, a major pool maintenance company, the average person swims in a pool six times a year. A majority of people enter the pool without bathing prior, resulting in them dousing other pool occupants with various chemicals stemming from sunscreen, makeup, perfume, and other body products as well as dirt gathered throughout the day. In fact, properly chemically treated pools are odorless so the smell you get upon arriving at a pool is from all those chemicals in the water. According to a recent survey by Forbes, “one in five people admit to peeing in a pool...with the emphasis on the word admit.” so not only are there chemicals, dirts, hair, and other body products in the water but also large amounts of urine.

Some people may say that is alright because, after all, urine is sterile, right? The thought is quite popular. In fact, a NY Times article published in 1981 mentions, “Normally urine is sterile and contains few if any cells or nutrients.” It turns out that the old myth is incorrect. Some might blame the article’s publish date, August 19, 1981, for the reason the article is no longer accurate because surely people do not continue to believe something that is not the truth. An assumption which is incorrect because another NY times article published in 2012, 30 years after the aforementioned one, also mentions similar facts: “In a healthy person, however, urine is sterile and contains neither infectious microorganisms nor white blood cells trying to fight them.” A study in Loyola University Chicago from November 2011 shows that urine is not sterile. In fact, it has large amounts of bacteria; bacteria that is dangerous for you, your body and your health.

Then the question arises why do we not simply swim in rivers, oceans or lakes? The issue is they may be filled, “with germs from sewage spills, animal waste, water runoff following rainfall, fecal incidents, and germs rinsed off the bottoms of swimmers.” The fact is that pools can be cleaned whereas the ocean and lakes which feature much of the same bacteria and dirt cannot.

Not only is it disgusting but it also is the source of irritation within your eyes or your skin. In fact, much of the dirt and chemicals can get into open wounds or scars. While viruses like HIV are neutralized by chlorine, it is perfectly possible for infection to set in.

What do you do now that you know? Should you avoid pools completely? No, of course you shouldn’t avoid them completely! Instead, remember to take a shower before and after you go into the pool in order to avoid germs, bacteria or other nasty stuff harming you. Next time you have the urge to pee in a pool, don’t.


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