By Nancy Stockton
It seemed gross to me, but I wasn’t completely sure, is pee in the pool even a problem? Do fecal contaminations happen often enough to require a solution like a swim diaper cover?
Well, it’s important enough that the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, has numerous articles on the topic. Here is one article and excerpt:
“Check yourself! Keep the pee, poop, sweat, blood, and dirt out of the water.
- Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
- Stay out of the water if you have an open wound (for example, from surgery or a piercing) that is not covered with a waterproof bandage.
- Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just 1 minute removes most of the dirt or anything else on your body.”
Here is a second article and excerpt posted on the CDC’s website:
“Some research has looked into how well swim diapers and swim pants are able to keep feces (poop) and infection-causing germs from leaking into the pool. Even though swim diapers and swim pants might hold in some solid feces 1, they are not leak proof. Swim diapers can delay diarrhea-causing germs, like Cryptosporidium, from leaking into the water for a few minutes, but swim diapers do not keep these germs from contaminating the water 2. No manufacturers claim these products prevent leakage of diarrhea into pools.”
Note: We will be talking with the CDC to update their article.
The National Swimming Pool Foundation also posts articles on their website regarding the problem of pee in the pool. Here is an excerpt:
"Scientific studies verify that urine from pool users is the largest avoidable contributor to harmful pool disinfection byproducts, the leading cause of eye, skin, and breathing irritations all too commonly associated with swimming."
Link to scientific studies referenced above: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/
Full article here: https://www.nspf.org/news/preventing-pee-pool-peequel
Anecdotally, my parents live in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where their community pool closed four times in three months for cleaning after a contamination incident. They now offer a free disposable swim diaper at check-in, even though disposables shed fibers which can cause drain clogs. They also have a giant sign at the entrance.
I’ve learned that next year, they plan to implement a $700 fine to any member responsible for a contamination. Things are getting serious.
It will take a collective effort to alleviate the problem of pee in the pool. Is the issue important enough for you to participate in a solution? What is your contribution?
Gem of wisdom: Some problems require a contribution from everyone to achieve a solution. But still, every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.