Why it's a bad idea to pee in the pool • Earth.com

Why it's a bad idea to pee in the pool


You may not admit to it, but you’ve probably done it. Whether you’re in the middle of swim team practice, or you simply don’t want to track water inside your house, there are many reasons why it may be tempting to pee in the pool. But aside from being pretty gross, recent research suggests that it may not be as harmless as it seems.

Today’s Video of the Day explains why it’s not such a brilliant time-saving technique to pee in the pool, courtesy of the American Chemical Society. A recent study published in the ACS Journal of Environmental Science & Technology illustrates how the reaction between uric acid and chlorine can be dangerous.

Professor Ernest Blatchley from Purdue University teamed up with Jing Lee from China Agricultural University teamed up to study what happens when uric acid from human urine reacts with chlorine. The two major byproducts that occur are cyanogen chloride and trichloramine.

Cyanogen chloride is a very toxic chemical that has actually been used as a chemical warfare agent, while exposure to trichloramine can cause irritation of the respiratory system and skin tissues. While there isn’t enough uric acid in a swimming pool to produce chemical warefare levels of the compound, it can still make you sick if you breathe it in.

“There are reported instances where people have become ill with symptoms that are consistent with poisoning by either cyanogen chloride or trichloramine,” said Professor Blatchley.

The average swimmer leaves behind 30 to 80 mL of pee in the pool, which comes out to be 2 ounces per swimmer. While not everyone swims in the pool, that’s still a whole lot of pee!

So maybe next time, do your part to keep pool toxin levels down by making a quick trip to the loo before diving in.

By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer

Source: American Chemical Society

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