You Should Never Pee in the Pool
I remember the first time I ever (intentionally) peed in the pool. I was 9 years old and my swim team was having a treading water contest. In the middle of the contest I told my coach I had to go. She told me that I should go, just not get out of the pool, and that the chlorine would take care of it. So I went. I won the contest, and it was the beginning of an era.
I say this without shame because competitive swimmers (and babies) everywhere do this all the time,
especially even Michael Phelps. As reassured as TMZ is by his apparent conviction that there is nothing wrong with it, I’m fairly certain the extent of the science behind that position is “because chlorine.” But hey, he still gets paid a million dollars to eat a sandwich on TV and I just invented a new logical fallacy: the argument from Michael Phelps.
According to chemical engineer of Purdue University Ernest Blatchley, “There’s this perception that peeing in the pool is okay because there’s chlorine, and that is just not true.” The uric acid in urine (the whole reason it is called urine in the first place) and sweat reacts with chlorine in the pool, creating different compounds, most concerning being cyanogen chloride (CNCl) and trichloramine (NCl3). There are a few studies like this that link these compounds to respiratory ailments, though more research on this topic is still needed. Blatchley has found these compounds in every pool he has sampled over the last ten years. According to that article, samples taken before and after a swim meet drove the levels of these compounds up by a factor of four, well above EPA safety levels. Blatchley and his colleagues recently published a study in Environmental Science & Technology attributing 93% of the uric acid causing these compounds to the presence of urine in swimming pools.
I will never pee in a pool again, or I guess on anyone for that matter. (For the record, I’ve never [intentionally] peed on anyone, this article just required a lot of pee research) I’d also like to note that it is still ok to pee in the ocean.