Admit it: you’ve done it before. You’re swimming in the pool and the urge to pee strikes. You look around, say “eh” and decide to let it out.
If you have anything resembling a conscience, you’ve probably wondered if your decision to take a leak in the pool is sanitary. A team of researchers from the American Chemical Society answered that question in a recent study.
No, it’s absolutely not sanitary to pee in a pool. In fact, when the uric acid found in urine combines with chlorine, the mixture produces two chemical compounds that pose legitimate health concerns.
These compounds are NCl3 (trichloramine) and CNCl (cyanogen chloride). NCl3 is associated with lung problems, and CNCl can damage the heart, lungs, and nervous system.
Significant levels of both of these problematic compounds are found in pools. Though sweat produces a small amount of uric acid, the researchers estimate that a whopping 90 percent of the NCl3 and CNCl found in pool water is the result of urine. Just something to fun to think about as spring approaches.
The researchers “conclude that swimmers can improve pool conditions by simply urinating where they're supposed to — in the bathrooms.”
Want some more fun pool facts? That distinct smell that surrounds a pool isn’t chlorine. That’s the smell of chloramines, which are produced in a pool when chlorine combines with germs and toxins. The stronger that smell is, the more germs there are in that pool you’re about to hop into. Chloramines – not chlorine – are also responsible for the red eyes people get after spending too much time in the pool.
It’s not surprising that our pools smell so strongly of chloramines, either. A 2012 survey by the Water Quality and Health Council found that one in five people admit to peeing in the pool (which means four out of five people are lying), and seven out of 10 people admit to skipping a shower before jumping in the water.
So, yeah, about that $600-a-year pool membership…