Sweet Finding: 20 Gallons Of Pee In An Average Swimming Pool – Forbes

Nice swimming pool. How much do you want to bet that there’s pee in there? Photographer: Rafael Fabres/Bloomberg

Stop peeing in pools. You may claim you are not doing it. But as indicated in my previous FORBES piece about how dirty many swimming pools and hot tubs are, one in five people admit to peeing in a pool…with the emphasis on the word admit. And now researchers at University of Alberta have a test to determine how much urine is in a swimming pool and using the test found in two swimming pools (one 110,000 gallons and another 220,000 gallons) nearly 8 gallons (30 Liters) and 20 gallons (75 L) of urine. Since the average person does not excrete 20 gallons of urine during one pee (the average according to a previous study is 77.5 mL), this means that well over 400 people may have peed in the first pool and over 1000 people in the second pool. Stop it. Stop using swimming pools and hot tubs as toilet bowls. Just stop it.

Even though this finding is definitely, definitely not sweet, how the researchers measured the urine was. In an article published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, Lindsay K. Jmaiff Blackstock, Wei Wang, Sai Vemula, Benkjamin T. Jaeger, and Xing-Fang Li described how they used the amount of a commonly used artificial sweetener, acesulfame-K (ACE), to measure how much urine is in a swimming pool or hot tub. When you eat or drink something with the artificial sweetener, much of it goes straight into your urine. Now, of course, the other possibility is that people are just pouring artificial sweeteners into the pools and hot tubs that were tested. But most likely, if a test detects lots of the sweetener in the pool or hot tub, “urine” trouble…because most it is probably from pee. So stop peeing in the pool.

Besides being disgusting, urine in pools is not exactly safe. (Stop peeing in the pool.) While chlorine can kills many nasty microorganisms, it doesn’t just clean everything. In fact, the urine can react with the chlorine to produce toxic compounds such as cyanogen chloride (CNCl) and trichloramine (NCl3) that can irritate the eyes and lungs. (Not good, so stop peeing in the pool.) As Time previously reported, CNCI can damage the lungs, heart, and central nervous system while NCl3 could lead to acute lung injury. Now it may take a ton of pee for real damage to occur, but you get the picture, peeing in the pool ain’t completely safe and it ain’t nice. So please stop it.

How do you stop peeing in pools and hot tubs? Just don’t do it. Empty your bladder before you enter the swimming pool. Don’t drink eight glasses of water before you take a dip. Remember everyone else has to swim in your pee. If you have to go, hold it. Yes, you are surrounded by water. Yes, water may make you want to go. Yes, it takes some effort to go to the bathroom (the real bathroom and not the swimming pool) and take off your swimsuit. But come on, for everyone’s sake just make the effort and don’t pee in the pool or hot tub. Stop it please.

Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here

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