DETROIT (WWJ) – As Americans jump into another fun-filled summer of swimming, a new survey finds that most don’t know the real reason why some pools have a strong chemical smell.

A survey conducted on behalf of the Water Quality and Health Council found that three-quarters of Americans incorrectly believe that the chemical odor they smell at pools is a sign that there’s too much chlorine in the water.

Properly treated swimming pools actually don’t have a strong chemical smell. However, when chlorine in pool water combines with urine, poop, sweat and dirt from swimmers’ bodies, chemical irritants called chloramines are produced. These chloramines give off a chemical odor, cause eyes to get red and sting, and use up the chlorine, meaning there is less to kill germs.

“It’s understandable why most people think that a chemical smell means there is too much chlorine in the pool, but the truth could be the opposite,” Chris Wiant, Chair of the Water Quality and Health Council, said in a statement. “To help prevent chloramines from forming where you swim, shower before swimming and take little swimmers on regular bathroom breaks.”

Experts from the Water Quality and Health Council, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Swimming Pool Foundation are advising swimmers to use a “Sensible Checklist” to ensure a fun and healthy swimming experience:

— Are the pH and chlorine level correct? Use a test strip to check.
— Standing at the edge of the pool, can you see the drain in the bottom of the deep end?
— Do drain covers on the bottom of the pool appear to be secure and in good repair?
— Is a lifeguard on duty? If a lifeguard is not on duty, is safety equipment (for example, a rescue ring or pole) available?
— Is the area around the pool free of strong chemical odors?

If you answer no to any of the questions, do not get into the water because the conditions could lead to illness or injury.



SURVEY QUESTION: The poll asked 1,500 Americans: “When you smell a chemical odor coming from the pool water, what do you think that usually means?”

— 76 percent of respondents answered: “There is too much chlorine in the pool.”
— 19 percent said: “There is the right amount of chlorine in the pool.”
— 5 percent said: “There is not enough chlorine in the pool.”

The survey was conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco, among 1,500 online respondents May 12-13. 


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