The Dirty Little Secret In Your Swimming Pool

People peeing in the water isn't the only thing you should be concerned about at your local swimming pool.

Turns out that by skipping a pre-dive shower, your fellow swimmers could be exposing you to toxins in their personal care products, according to research published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

While chlorine is added to pools to kill germs and break down contaminants that wash off of swimmers, it's not effective at getting rid of chemicals from personal care products. (Plus, chlorine exposure isn't exactly good for you either.) And worse, because these chemicals aren't getting broken down, they build up over time.

See Also - The Number Of Calories You Burn While Swimming Will Amaze You

Testing three indoor pools for 32 pharmaceuticals and personal care products, the researchers found that the pools contained the insect repellant DEET, caffeine, and the flame retardant TCEP. The levels of DEET were as high as those found in municipal wastewater; 80 percent of the DEET and caffeine persisted for 24 hours after being exposed to chlorine.

Besides stricter rules about swimmers showering before they hit the pool or about urinating in the pool, Bill Gottlieb, CHC, author of the upcoming book, Health-Defense, says you can keep your time in the pool safer by watching out for certain pool toys.

"Most pool toys—inflatable water wings, rafts, rigid foam kickboards, and the inflatable pools themselves—are made with polyvinyl chloride, or PVC," he explains. "This toxic plastic contains hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates, which have also been linked to asthma, obesity, and lowered IQ in children."

He explains that these toys are especially dangerous in hot conditions, because phthalates leak out from PVC when they're exposed to heat.

For safer pool time, check out his three rules for pool toys:

#1. Avoid Number 3.
"First and foremost, avoid any pool toy that's labeled as a number 3 plastic. To determine this, look for the standard recycling triangle, and if you see a '3,' 'V,' or 'PVC' inside of it, this means the product is made from PVC," says Gottlieb.

#2. Opt for Flexible Foam. 
 "Many pool noodles and foam floating mats are made with EVA, or ethylene vinyl acetate, which is a type of vinyl made without hormone-disrupting phthalates. An easy way to tell the two apart: EVA is flexible; PVC is rigid," he explains.

#3. Find Floating Foam.
"You can replace inflatable water wings made from PVC with belts made from EVA foam," he says. Just watch out because, as with noodles and kickboards, you want to avoid PVC foam. The Soft Landing lists alternatives made with EVA foam.

From Rodale News

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