Pool Chemicals: Debunked Myths

The safety of pool chemicals has been a hot debate topic for a while now. One of the reasons for this is that several studies have shown that chlorine (the commonest pool chemical) can lead to increased cancer risk when used in a certain manner. 

Hence, apart from this scientific fact, other myths have surfaced out of the waters and have become “facts” for so many people. Therefore, in this article, we will debunk some of these common myths that have become rampant. 

Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Strong Odor of Pool Chemical Indicates a Clean Swimming Bath

This is a myth that many people have come to believe. They feel that the stronger the odor of the chemicals, the cleaner the swimming hole. They think that the odor is produced by chlorine which is not true.

The odor from a swimming pool shows that it is unsafe and unclean. This is because the odor is a product of a mixture of contaminants and chlorine known as chloramines. A clean pool has little or no odor. 

We advise that you avoid swimming in pools with a strong chemical odor if you have any form of respiratory health issues. Also, you can use pool chemicals test kits to determine the level and concentration of pool chemicals in your water.

2. A Certain Pool Chemical Reveals the Presence of Urine

This is quite laughable which is why it has been used in television shows as well as movies. The urban legend says that a certain chemical can turn urine in the bath to a certain color to reveal who peed. 

While this has become a common household joke, it isn’t true and such chemical doesn’t exist.  

3. Clear Water Means Clean Water

Do you know those pools that look so clean to the point that the pool’s bottom can be easily seen? Most people think that the transparency of the water reflects purity. This cannot be far from the truth. All you need to convince you is a microscope to reveal the microorganisms swimming inside the water.

4. Chlorine is Dangerous

Chlorine (Cl) in itself is not dangerous and has been used in chlorinating drinking water since 1908 in Chicago. 

Cl is only dangerous when it reacts with carcinogens which are organic compounds found in the water. Examples of carcinogens are chloroform and trihalomethanes. It is when chlorine combines with these compounds that it can lead to cancer.

To prevent this sort of reaction, the proper amount must be applied and organic compound penetration must be minimized.  

5. Saltwater Pools does not Require Chlorine

As a result of the fear people had for chlorine, many opted for saltwater pools. The thing about this type of swimming bath is that they aren’t designed to get rid of chlorine usage but rather reduce it. This makes it possible for those that are sensitive to the chemical to still enjoy their swimming.

One of the reasons chlorine is required even in saltwater pools is that salt cannot clean the pool. You can break down salt into chlorine using a chlorinator. Hence, Cl is still going to be a chemical found in your swimming water.   

6. Swallowing Chlorinated Pool Water is Fine Once it is disinfected 

Water that has been chlorinated is safe as we stated above, however, drinking chlorinated pool water isn’t. Click here to find out how safe drinking chlorinated water is. Even if it is your pool, we recommend you avoid swallowing water from it.

7. Chlorine Turns Hair Green

Some people have experienced their hair turning green after taking a swim. This occurs more frequently with folks with blonde hair. As a result of this, many think chlorine is responsible for this. The truth, however, is that copper is the culprit and not Cl. 

Copper is sometimes added to a swimming bath as a means of controlling algae. Another source of copper can be from pool tools plumbing like a pump, hose, and filter. 

To prevent having green hair, simply wear a swimming cap. If you get the green tint, shampoo and a thorough rinsing will remove the color.

8. Chlorine Causes Red Eyes

This is a very common myth that many people have come to believe. Nevertheless, chlorine once again is not the culprit but high chloramine or pH levels. If you get itchy skin or red eyes after going for a swim, then it means more chlorine needs to be added to the water. 

9. Taking a Shower before Using the Pool isn’t Compulsory

You need to have a shower to cleanse your skin of any form of organic compound. As we mentioned earlier, it is the reaction between chlorine and such compounds that causes cancer. Therefore, to prevent the risk of getting cancer, you must take a shower. Visit https://www.cancerwa.asn.au/resources/cancermyths/chlorine-cancer-myth/ to read more about the Cl and cancer myth.

10. Water cannot be contaminated with Swim Diapers

Swim diapers aren’t leak-proof; hence, they can contaminate the water as easily as any other diaper. 


Pool chemicals are good when used in the right manner and combination. These myths aren’t unfounded but a result of misinformation and wrong usage of pool chemicals.