Thursday, November 26, 2015

We pee in the pool — and it’s hurting our health, study says


(MCT) LOS ANGELES — One in five Americans has admitted to peeing in a public swimming pool, according to a 2014 survey.

That’s 20 percent of Americans urinating where others swim. Besides being disgusting, peeing in the pool may be seriously harmful to your health.

In the July study, researchers from China Agricultural University and Purdue University looked at what happened when uric acid, a byproduct of urine, and chlorine combined. The group found dangerous chemical reactions were a result of this unholy union.

The combo kicks up cyanogen chloride, a gas that can harm the central nervous system, heart and lungs if inhaled. Uric acid is linked to 24 percent to 68 percent of this byproduct in pool water, the scientists said.

More coverage
  • Swim safety tips: Prevent illnesses and injuries
  • And you can chalk up 3 percent to 4 percent of the harmful byproduct trichloramine in pool water to uric acid. Nitrogen trichloramine (NC13) is a poisonous gas that can cause acute lung injury. The buildup of this gas can be so quick and so severe that researchers studying a national swimming competition found that NC13 levels doubled after one day of use. The gas levels increased as much as fourfold over the entire four-day competition.

    Both of these gases have been linked to chronic health issues among swimmers.

    How can we stop these chemical reactions from occurring?

    Jing Li, professor of applied chemistry at China Agricultural University, told that increasing the amount of chlorine in pool water would help in part. Another, much better solution: Don’t pee in the pool. It is, as the study points out, “a voluntary action for most swimmers.”

    Sadly, this isn’t a first report on human waste in swimming pools. According to a May 2014 article by the L.A. Times’ Amina Khan: “More than half of the public pools tested in a new study contained bacterial evidence that someone may have pooped in the pool.”

    Let’s just get it together and make it to the bathroom, people.

    Here are some other swimming facts from the survey:

    • 11 percent of participants admit to swimming with a runny nose
    • 43 percent said they skipped taking a shower before swimming
    • 6 percent admitted to swimming with a cold
    • But less than 1 percent admitted to swimming while ill with diarrhea.


    ©2014 Los Angeles Times

    Visit the Los Angeles Times at

    Distributed by MCT Information Services

    Los Angeles Times
    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
    Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

    Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

    Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

    Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

    Read 0 comments
    comments powered by Disqus
    Latest Health Videos
    Also on
    letter icon Newsletter