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Experts warn against peeing in public pools

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Posted at 7:15 PM, Jun 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-10 09:46:16-04

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah -- It's that time of year, school is out, the temperature is hot and the kids want to go swimming.

However, Salt Lake County officials say parents need to be responsible when visiting public pools.

There is a big misconception that by having chlorine in the pool it keeps the water clean and everyone safe from germs. Salt Lake County officials say chemicals can only do so much, they also need the public's help.

County officials say one of the greatest problems they see at public pools is people, usually kids, peeing in the pool. Another common problem is that people don't shower before entering the pool.

County officials say contaminants such as urine and sweat have a toxic reaction when mixed with chlorine, because of this most public pools have mandatory swim breaks, at least once an hour, so children are forced to use the bathroom.

Parents who have children in diapers are also recommended to change their kids every 30 minutes.

"Peeing in the pool is not cool because when you pee in the pool you actually reduce the chlorine that is in that water that helps keep people safe," said Rick Ledbetter, of the Salt Lake County Health Department. "As the urine that contains nitrogen interacts with that chlorine you actually have a buildup of what we call chloramines and that actually causes things that people experience like red eyes, irritation of their skin."

The county said in a recent survey 87 percent of Americans thought chlorine is what irritates your eyes, when it's actually people peeing in the pool.

Parents at the Taylorsville Recreation Center were equally surprised to hear this news.

"That's a little disturbing," said Melanie Strah.

"OK that's gross," said Leanora Aiono

"I want to go home that's gross," said Kari Berger.

According to the county, the number one cause of recreational water illness is diarrhea.

"Make sure when you are using the restroom to wipe and that kind of stuff and not to allow it to get into the pool because it can make other people sick," Aiono said.

"This is not a communal bath tub this is a swimming pool and people are here to have fun and we can do that we just all have to do our part," Ledbetter said.