News article

10 Shocking Facts about Swimming Pools

A trip to your local pool is a great way to get a little extra exercise, enjoy a fun afternoon with the kids or swim away the stress of a busy week, but did you know that lurking under the water could be a range of hidden nasties?

From wart and verruca viruses to gastric infections and more we have uncovered the most shocking facts about swimming pools.

1. They probably contain faecal matter

That's right, according to a survey for the Centre for Disease Control in the US over half the pools sampled in 2012 had evidence of poop in the water. Whilst most levels were not high enough to present a serious threat to your health it's still a worrying thought.

2. Half of Brits admit to peeing in the Pool.

It would seem that where there is poop there is pee with a study by Travel Zoo stating that almost half of brits surveyed admitted to relieving themselves whilst taking a dip. Although us Brits aren't as bad as the americans, with the Water Quality and Health Council finding that 1 in 5 participants had urinated in a swimming pool. These studies didn't include the number of children who peed in pools but it's probably a good idea to keep your mouth closed while swimming!

3. They are a breeding ground for warts and verrucas

Verrucas and most warts are caused by viruses that can be spread not only by direct contact but by indirect contact through shared towels or surfaces around a pool. What's more when our skin is wet it becomes more delicate and susceptible to disease.

4. They can give you diarrhoea

Cryptosporidium is a parasite responsible for many cases of water based diarrhoea outbreaks. It can survive for up to ten days even in chlorine treated water but can be prevented with good pool hygiene management.

5. A strong smelling pool is a dirty pool

You may think that the strong chlorine smell at your local pool means it is super clean, in fact it indicates just the opposite. That typical pool smell is actually chloramines, a by-product produced when chlorine comes into contact with urine, sweat and other contaminants, yuck!

6. They can make your ears ooze

Swimmers ear is a condition often originating from pool use where high levels of bacteria are present. It can cause redness, itching and pain along with puss and fluid draining from the ear.

7. People aren't showering before they swim

Along with the urine and faeces swimming pools also contain a healthy dose of sweat, oil secretions, make-up and chemicals. The reason, many of us aren't showering before we swim. According to the Water Quality and Health Council a shocking 70 percent of us aren't washing pre swim.

8. Chemical reactions in a pool can make you ill

A study conducted by Chinese and US universities found that the reaction of urine and sweat with chlorine produces chemical irritants that can cause eye, skin and respiratory problems.

9. Urine 'shame' dye is an urban myth

The story that urine in some pools will turn the water a different colour is a complete fabrication.  It's thought this urban myth may have been thought up by an ingenious lifeguard to prevent people relieving themselves in the water!

10. Chlorine has been linked to cases of Asthma

Chemicals produced from chlorine reactions are irritating to the respiratory system and have been linked to a higher risk of asthma, particularly in pool workers. A Belgian study also found a higher rate of asthma in children who were regular swimmers. Remember that just because the water looks inviting doesn't mean it's clean and healthy. Practice good pool hygiene to ensure that both you and other visitors have a fun and harm free visit to the pool this summer!


Weaver, William A., et al. "Volatile disinfection by-product analysis from chlorinated indoor swimming pools." Water research 43.13 (2009): 3308-3318.

Bernard, Alfred, et al. "Impact of chlorinated swimming pool attendance on the respiratory health of adolescents." Pediatrics 124.4 (2009): 1110-1118.



Date of Preparation: July 2016