We are sorry to have to break the news to you, but the odor that you name “chlorine” at the swimming pool is not, in reality, coming from the disinfectant that is called chlorine.
In point of fact, you should probably get out of the pool totally if it stinks too strongly of “chlorine,” since this is the consequence of something called “chloramines.”
Although chlorinated water may have a minor chemical odor that is detectable in pools without proper ventilation, this odor is not caused by chlorine. But chloramines, which form when chlorine combines with ammonia in swimmers’ perspiration, body oils, and urine, and may pose a health risk.
The stronger the smell, the dirtier the water is. Sorry folks. Public pools are basically giant toilets.
Monochloramine, dichloramine, and trichloramine are all derived from ammonia by substituting chlorine for one, two, or three of the hydrogen ions.
The first is a disinfectant that is occasionally added to swimming pools, while the second and third are what you have been referring to as the “chlorine smell,” as stated by the American Chemistry Council.
In point of fact, the fouler the odor coming from the pool, the less free chlorine there is in the water, which indicates that it is time to add more chlorine to the pool in order to properly disinfect it.
“It is good advice,” the Water Quality & Health Council explains, “to stay out of the water when a strong chemical smell pervades the air around any type of pool, indoor or outdoor.”
“It is true that the more urine there is to combine with chlorine, the higher the level of unwanted, smelly chloramines in the pool,” the Water Quality & Health Council continues. “Following that thread, if chlorine is combining chemically with contaminants like urine, then it is not available to destroy germs in the pool that can make swimmers sick with diarrhea, swimmer’s ear and various skin infections.”
The question is, how much oil, perspiration, and urine are all of us seeping into the pools? One group of scientists from the University of Alberta has made an effort to estimate sweat and oil, but they have been successful in their attempt to estimate urine.
The researchers was able to determine that out of a normal commercial swimming pool that is 832,700 liters in size (220,000 gallons), pee makes up around 75.7 liters (20 gallons) of the total volume. This was done by analyzing the amount of artificial sweeteners that travel through the body and into the urine.
If you swim in a standard home pool and assume that your family has the same willingness to urinate in their own pool as they do in public pools, then you are swimming in around 7.6 liters (2 gallons) of urine at any one time. It makes perfect sense why it has such a distinct “chlorine” odor.
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