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An answer to the perennial question: Is it safe to pee in the pool?

Date:
March 26, 2014
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Sanitary-minded pool-goers who preach 'no peeing in the pool,' despite ordinary and Olympic swimmers admitting to the practice, now have scientific evidence to back up their concern. Researchers are reporting that when mixed, urine and chlorine can form substances that can cause potential health problems.
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Sanitary-minded pool-goers who preach "no peeing in the pool," despite ordinary and Olympic swimmers admitting to the practice, now have scientific evidence to back up their concern.
Credit: © erwinova / Fotolia

Sanitary-minded pool-goers who preach "no peeing in the pool," despite ordinary and Olympic swimmers admitting to the practice, now have scientific evidence to back up their concern. Researchers are reporting that when mixed, urine and chlorine can form substances that can cause potential health problems. Their study appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Jing Li, Ernest Blatchley, III, and colleagues note that adding chlorine to pool water is the most common way to kill disease-causing microbes and prevent swimmers from getting sick. But as people swim, splash, play -- and pee -- in the pool, chlorine mixes with sweat and urine and makes other substances. Two of these compounds, including trichloramine (NCl3) and cyanogen chloride (CNCl), are ubiquitous in swimming pools. The first one is associated with lung problems, and the second one can also affect the lungs, as well as the heart and central nervous system. But scientists have not yet identified all of the specific ingredients in sweat and urine that could cause these potentially harmful compounds to form. So Li's team looked at how chlorine interacts with uric acid, a component of sweat and urine.

They mixed uric acid and chlorine, and within an hour, both NCl3 and CNCl formed. Though some uric acid comes from sweat, the scientists calculated that more than 90 percent of the compound in pools comes from urine. They conclude that swimmers can improve pool conditions by simply urinating where they're supposed to -- in the bathrooms.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Chinese Universities Scientific Fund, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the National Swimming Pool Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lushi Lian, Yue E, Jing Li, Ernest R. Blatchley. Volatile Disinfection Byproducts Resulting from Chlorination of Uric Acid: Implications for Swimming Pools. Environmental Science & Technology, 2014; 48 (6): 3210 DOI: 10.1021/es405402r

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "An answer to the perennial question: Is it safe to pee in the pool?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140326102723.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2014, March 26). An answer to the perennial question: Is it safe to pee in the pool?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140326102723.htm
American Chemical Society. "An answer to the perennial question: Is it safe to pee in the pool?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140326102723.htm (accessed April 27, 2015).

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