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Science explains why you should definitely not pee in the pool

An important summer PSA: Turns out a chemical in urine mixed with chlorine produces a harmful chemical

Sarah Gray
June 12, 2014 1:00AM (UTC)

Heads up all would-be pool-urinators: Science has a darn good reason why this summer you shouldn't sneakily pee while you swim. Sure, it is inconvenient to get out, dry off and use a restroom, but that's actually loads better when you learn more about the alternative.

According to Ernest Blatchley, a chemist at Purdue University, when uric acid, which is found in human urine, mixes with chlorine it produces cyanogen chloride and trichloramine. These two chemicals can cause bodily damage if they are inhaled in large doses. Professor Blatchley along with his colleagues published this research in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.


The amount of cyanogen chloride and trichloramine produced by the average amount of pee released by humans is smaller than that known to cause serious physical harm. However, peeing in the pool can -- especially in indoor pools -- cause irritation of the respiratory system, skin and eyes.

The American Chemical Society created the below "Breakthrough Science" video to explain.


h/t Scientific American

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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