There are now two reasons not to pee in the pool. Yes, it’s often common comic fodder in poolside comedies such as Grown Ups and even Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps once told the press that he has done it. Phelps, much like many other people, has for years been under the mistaken impression that the chlorine used to clean the water in a swimming pool cleans will kill the germs and render the presence of pee in the pool harmless.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana and the China Agricultural University in Beijing, People’s Republic of China while one reason not to pee in the pool is to be courteous, another is more scientifically sound and urgent. The international team of researchers found that uric acid, which is a compound in urine, can actually create “volatile disinfection byproducts” when mixed with chlorine present in swimming pool water.
Specifically, the byproduct of urine and chlorine is cyanogen chloride. Cyanogen chloride is an element that has been found to be toxic to human organs when inhaled. According to such sources as Live Science, another toxic compound is trichloramine which is known to cause significant damage to the lungs.
Their findings, detailed in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology, also revealed that there are other concerns beyond pee in the pool. The investigative group also found that pool chlorine can also react with not only urine but sweat or other organic matter in the water.
They told the press: “Given that uric acid introduction to pools is attributable to urination, a voluntary action for most swimmers, these findings indicate important benefits to pool water and air chemistry that could result from improved hygiene habits on the part of swimmers.”
One of the study researchers, Ernest R. Blatchley III, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University added: “A common misconception within the swimming community is that urination in pools is an acceptable practice, although signs and placards are posted in many pools to encourage proper hygiene.”
Blatchley concluded: “It is also well known that many swimmers ignore these warnings; particularly noteworthy among these are competitive swimmers.” With summer on the way, the researchers hope that people will take heed of their warnings, be more hygiene-conscious and “never pee in the pool again.”
(Image courtesy of Care2)