One in every five people pee in the pool, and one hundred percent of competitive swimmers pee in the pool.
Urine itself isn’t so bad, however, when urine (uric acid) reacts with the chlorine in the pool it creates disinfection byproducts (DBPs). When uric acid reacts with chlorine, two harmful DBPs are created: cyanogen chloride (CNCI) and trichloramine (NCI3). Cyanogen chloride is toxic to your lungs, heart and central nervous system and trichloramine can cause lung damage.
“Given that uric acid introduction to pools is attributable to urination, the findings indicate important benefits to pool water and air chemistry that could result from improved hygiene habits on the part of swimmers,” says Ernest R. Blatchley III, a Purdue University professor and co-author of a study published in Environmental Science & Technology on the subject.
“A common misconception within the swimming community is that urination in pools is an acceptable practice, although signs and placards are posted in many pools to encourage proper hygiene. It is also well known that many swimmers ignore these warnings, particularly noteworthy among these are competitive swimmers.”
Disinfection byproducts are harmful substances that weaken your immune system and can lead to DNA damage with only 40 minutes of exposure.
You can’t prevent other people from peeing in the pool. But, you can choose not to pee in the pool yourself. If you’re worried about the effects of other people peeing in the pool, choose a place to swim that doesn’t use high amounts of chlorine or bromine for disinfection.