The weather is improving, and that means that pool season is around the corner. With friends, family, or on your own, there is nothing like taking a dip in the cool blue water of your nearest swimming pool. Behind its lightly chlorinated fragrance, small and large pools have a secret that is not often talked about.
Everybody does it but nobody admits it
We have all done it at some point, no need to deny it! Peeing in the pool is a much more common practice than one would think. A study from 2017 indicates that a public swimming pool could contain an average of 75 litres of urine.
If you haven't noticed this yet, it's because pool water is mixed with sweeteners that give the water its pleasant colour. But under that clear water, between the waving of arms and the flapping of feet, people's urine mixes with the chemicals, making everyone swim in a dangerous cocktail. This is what Ernest Blatchey, an environmental engineer at Purdue University, explains:
Urinating in the pool is like passive smoking, it's rude, and urine in the water can cause hygiene problems.
A corrosive cocktail
A process of water sanitisation is carried out by machines to disinfect the water and protect people from various kinds of infections. The main disinfectant used is chlorine, which is present in bleach. Its dosage in swimming pool water is strictly controlled and cannot exceed 3 to 4 mg per litre.
When a person pees in the pool, the urine mixes with the chlorine and causes the unfortunate formation of two harmful substances, trichloramine and cyanogen chloride. Trichloramine flies into the air and its accumulation in the building can cause eye and respiratory tract irritations, even leading to rhinitis and asthma attacks. Cyanogen chloride is a powerful irritant affecting the body's ability to use oxygen.
In 2016, for example, employees at a swimming pool in the United States exposed to these substances suffered eye and respiratory problems due to the poor quality of the water and a serious lack of ventilation.
Even worse if you don’t shower first
Some have not yet understood this, but showers are placed after the changing rooms for a reason. The first step before swimming is to cleanse the body of many substances that are harmful to pool hygiene, such as lotions and sun cream, or sweat.
Urinating in the pool while bypassing this step is the ultimate combo to reinforce the toxicity of the water and to cause the appearance of carcinogenic substances such as nitrosamines. To make matters worse, a study has shown that about 4 out of 10 people bypass the showers and go directly into the pool.