Peeing in the pool can be hazardous

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Peeing in the pool is not just unsanitary — it can be hazardous to your health, according to a recent Purdue University study.

Purdue researchers said uric acid in urine generates potentially hazardous “volatile disinfection byproducts” in swimming pools by interacting with chlorine. Researchers said swimmers should observe “improved hygiene habits.”

Chlorine is used as one of the primary agents in swimming pools to prevent pathogenic microorganisms from growing. The chlorine produces “disinfection byproducts” of cyanogen chloride, or CNCl, and trichloramine, or NCl3.

Researchers said CNCl is toxic if inhaled and can affect the lungs, heart and central nervous system. NCl3 has been associated with acute lung injury in accidental, occupational or recreational exposures to chlorine-based disinfectants.

Purdue’s recent findings show that uric acid from urine is “an efficient precursor to the formation of CNCl and NCl3,” said Jing Li, a visiting scholar from the China Agricultural University working at Purdue University with Ernest R. Blatchley III, a professor of civil engineering.

“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,” Blatchley told News 18 in a release. “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.”

The Purdue findings, which are detailed in a research paper appearing in Journal Environmental Science & Technology in February, suggest more than 90 percent of uric acid in pools comes from human urine.

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