The Not-So-Dirty Facts About Chlorine: Part One

Have you ever jumped into a swimming pool and within minutes felt your eyes start to tingle? It’s easy (and common) to blame the chlorine in the pool water because it does serve as a chemical bleaching agent. Naturally, bleach is used to lighten hair or fabric, but it’s also used to clean.

Historically, chlorine has been added to water to kill germs since the 1890s. According to the American Journal of Public Hygiene, the first attempt to sterilize a pool in the United States using chlorine was at Brown University in 1910. The 70,000-gallon Colgate Hoyt Pool was chlorinated by graduate student John Wymond Miller Bunker. The pool remained sterile for four days.

However, it’s not the chlorine to blame. It’s the combination of chlorine AND urine in the pool water that’s causing your eyes to turn red and irritated. Chlorine does fight urine, but it’s also busy fighting much more dangerous germs such as E. coli.

“The nitrogen in the urine combines with the chlorine and it forms what’s known as chloramine and it’s actually chloramine that causes the red eyes,” Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s healthy swimming program told TODAY.

If you’re visiting a pool and your eyes start to burn, notify the owner of the pool or a pool staff member about your concern. If you own your own pool, buy a pool tester and check both the chlorine and the pH levels often. According to the CDC, chlorine levels should be between 1 to 3 ppm. The pH should be between 7.2 to 7.8. The pH is important because it determines how effective that chlorine is.

For burning eye relief, we recommend rinsing your eyes out with water or eye drops. If the irritation continues for multiple hours or your condition worsens, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

In addition to building the pool and spa of your dreams, Rising Sun Pools sells cleaning supplies, including water test strips and offers a convenient Drop & Go water testing program. Either system will tell you what needs to be fixed to balance out your pool water’s chemicals. Don’t have the time to test your pool water? We offer routine cleaning services available on weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or one-time visits.

Stay tuned for part two about the effects of chlorine dying your hair. Happy swimming!