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October 10, 2011

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One-fifth of pools have too much urea

ABOUT 20 percent of the city's swimming pools contain excessive urea because too many children urinate in the water, local health supervisors said yesterday.

In the summer, the Health Institute of Shanghai inspected more than 500 swimming pools. Tests for other contaminants, including total bacteria, produced better news as they were less of a problem than urea.

Officials said urea content is a standing problem and can harm people's health as ammonia released from urea will irritate eyes and skin.

"Some children pee in the pool, and their parents don't say no to them," said an official with the institute surnamed Bei. "So if the pool doesn't change water frequently, the urea content must be higher than the standard."

Officials said urea cannot be cleansed by sterile fluid, so changing water is the only solution. But frequent water changes are very expensive. Officials have ordered pools to improve their management.

Swimmers said they have also been aware of the problem, and some expressed fear of public swimming pools.

"I have not only see children pee, but also adults," said Barbara Li, a white-collar worker. "I don't know why they don't feel it's disgusting."

She said it's even hard to stay back in some other area of the pool because it's often so crowded in the summer.

"After seeing that, I don't want to go to a public pool anymore," she said.

China's Ministry of Health said recently that about 10 percent of the swimming pools in 24 provinces and cities had the urea problem.


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