Warfare At The Pool

Even Olympic swimmers have admitted to peeing in swimming pools.  However, just how much pee is in your local pool may make you hesitate before taking the plunge again.

A team at the University of Alberta today published an article in which they found a staggering average of 75 litres of pee in an Olympic pool.  That’s an absolutely tiny percentage of the pool’s 2,500,000l capacity but 75l is a lot when you consider that it’s 570 times higher than urine concentration in tap water.  Apparently the average bladder will hold 300-400ml during the day, which means there could be pee from up to 250 different people in the pool at any one time.

The team got their figure by analysing the amount of artificial sweetener in the pool.  Many processed foods contain acesulfame-K (ACE) and it completely passes through the body before being excreted in your urine.  A total of 250 samples were taken from 31 pools.

The researchers also tested hot tubs and got even worse results, one sample even containing twice the average that they’d found in the pools.


Each to their own, but the majority of people would probably be put off by the findings despite the fact that urine is sterile when it leaves the body and is a valuable source of nutrients that is now being used as an effective and natural fertiliser.  So, what is the problem?

Well, reactions between pool disinfectants and organic matter (such as urine) form something called disinfection byproducts (DBPs).  When some more researchers mixed uric acid from human urine with chlorine, they found that it creates two DBPs: cyanogen chloride (CNCl) and trichloramine (NCl3).

The former is a known and classified chemical warfare agent.

Obviously the quantities are small and “safe”, but still…

One of the paper’s authors, Lindsay Blackstock, said this:

We want to use this study to promote public education on appropriate swimming hygiene practices. We should all be considerate of others and make sure to exit the pool to use the restroom when nature calls.

Should we need research to tell us that we shouldn’t pee in places where others will be submerged it, drink it, get in their eyes…?  Is it not known already that it is not an “appropriate hygiene practice”.

Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway
Let It Go by Idina Menzel

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