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That Red Eye After Swimming – That’s Not From Chlorine

It’s summer, it’s hot, and we’re probably spending some time swimming. It’s a great way to cool off, it’s fun to play volleyball, and it’s nice to just float. But the after-swim red eye is annoying, right?

What’s in pool water? Well, water, and chlorine. What is chlorine made of? Sodium chloride, calcium hypochlorite, calcium chloride, calcium carbonate – basically a bunch of chemicals. You’d likely determine that the chemicals are what make your eyes red after swimming, right? It’s a good hypothesis for sure, though apparently that’s not it. Your red eyes after swimming is caused by another chemical, which is also found in pools. Urine – yes pee, is why your eyes are red after swimming.

Actually, when pee and chlorine mix, it produces chloramine. That’s what gives public pools that distinct “pool smell.” Chlorine in pools by itself doesn’t have that sort of distinct smell – it smells just like – well, water. The Center for Disease Control published some tips for pool and swimming safety, which you can see here. They gave some important notes we’ll summarize here though. Don’t pee or poo in the pool. The latter seems obvious, but the former usually gets a pass from a lot of people, gross. Don’t swallow the water – that one is probably strictly followed. Especially after reading all this. Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea. Well, yeah… Check out a lot more info here.

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