Please Don’t Pee In The Pool

As the summer swim season starts Memorial Day weekend, water quality and health experts have a message for swimmers: Please don’t pee in the pool.

• Although urine in the water probably will not cause swimmers to go to the emergency room, it causes “more of a respiratory, ocular irritation: the red puffy eyes or a cough, an itchy throat,” said an epidemiologist in the division of parasitic diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• In a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 17 percent admitted relieving themselves in a swimming pool. Even the Olympics’ most decorated swimmer, Michael Phelps, confessed to urinating in the water to TV host Jimmy Kimmel. In a 2008 interview, Kimmel asked the 14-gold medal winner if he does and he said yes.

• But it’s not just pee that’s fouling up our pool water. The survey found that 11 percent of adults said they have swum with a runny nose, 7 percent with an exposed rash or cut, and 1 percent when ill with diarrhea. The most common recreational water illness is spread through diarrhea.

• According to the CDC, if someone swallows water that has been contaminated with feces, he or she may become sick even if very little water is consumed.

• The CDC recommends that people shower before a swim, because most people have traces of feces on their bottoms, which can contaminate recreational water. In the survey, 35 percent reported skipping a shower before swimming.