Gross: Water test shows just how much pee is in public swimming pools

With spring followed by summer just around the corner, thoughts turn to peeing in swimming pools?

Maybe not overtly, but a new study confirms that swimmers seem to be using pools as their go-to bathroom or communal toilet.

Perhaps this gives a new meaning to everyone into the pool.

Scientists at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, used the commonly used artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium (ACE), which does not break down in the body, as a proxy for urine in public pools.

In one pool, the researchers found about 20 gallons of urine and 8 gallons in another, the Guardian of the U.K. explains:

“After tracking the levels of the sweetener in two public pools in Canada over a three-week period they calculated that swimmers had released 75 litres of urine…into a large pool (about 830,000 litres, one-third the size of an Olympic pool) and 30 litres into a second pool, around half the size of the first.”

While bordering on too much information, on average, each swimmer apparently releases about 2 ounces of pee each time the juices start flowing.

According to Forbes, this data suggests that 1,000-plus people may have peed in the first, 220,000-gallon  pool and about 400 in the second, 110-gallon pool, although lead author Lindsay Blackstock indicated that the team did not monitor the number of users during the 21-day period.

The team used a mass spectrometer to detect and quantify the ACE in the water quality study.

It’s not just a matter of the typical outcome of red, bloodshot eyes. Natural News previously explained that the water disinfectant chlorine plus urine, sweat, sunscreen, and other substances can create poisonous gases that wreak havoc on the nervous system, heart, and lungs through the triple threat of inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption.

Natural News has also warned of the long-term health consequences of exposing the body to chlorine, which the EPA classifies as a pesticide, through potential free radical damage. (RELATED: Read about pure water and related issues at

“Nitrogenous organics in urine can react with chlorine in swimming pools to form volatile and irritating N-CL-amines,” the study also notes.

The Guardian observed that “while urine is sterile, compounds in urine, including urea, ammonia, and creatinine have been found to react with disinfectants to form byproducts known as DBPs that can lead to eye and respiratory irritation,” as well as asthma for those exposed on a long-term basis.

The research team found ACE present in a total of 31 different pools and  hot tubs in two Canadian cities, in what is said to be the first ACE study of its kind. No pools or hot tubs were ACE free, according to the findings  detailed in Environmental Science & Technology Letters published by the America Chemical Society.

Jacuzzis may be further cause for concern. One hotel hot tub, for example, even apparently had three times the amount of ACE content than the most offending swimming pool.

Reacting to the study, a Purdue University environmental engineer likened pool peeing to secondhand smoke that is “disrespectful and potentially dangerous.”

University of Alberta’s Blackstock told Travel + Leisure, “The strategy of using artificial sweeteners as indicators of human waste has been applied around the globe, but the concept had never been applied to recreational [waters],” while emphasizing that appropriate swimming hygiene, i.e., using the restroom rather than a swimming pool when nature calls, is the proper approach to mitigating the health risk.

“The solution isn’t rocket science; it’s common courtesy,” Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, similarly told the Independent of London several years ago. “Swimmers should use the pool to swim, the restroom to pee, and the showers to wash up before getting in the pool. It’s that simple.”




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