Why You Should Never, Ever Pee In The Pool

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015_MG_9518_MichelleDrewesPhotographed By Michelle Drewes.
Time to get real. Have you ever peed in a pool? Ever had to go so bad but couldn’t dare sacrifice your spot in a game of Shark with the big kids in the deep end? If you’re a glorified pool-peer like we may have been as a one-piece-wearing nine-year-old, you risk harming yourself and swimmers around you.

One in five Americans have admitted to tinkling in a public swimming pool — though let’s be honest with ourselves here, that figure seems fairly low (most of us were kiddie-pool attendees at one time, after all). In a new study, researchers from China Agricultural University and Purdue University found that when uric acid — a byproduct of both urine and sweat — was introduced to a chlorinated pool, a dangerous gas formed. The gas, called cyanogen chloride (CNCl), can lead to coughing, drowsiness, nausea, sore throat, vomiting, confusion, and even unconsciousness. Though urinating in a chlorinated pool may be common practice for many, the Pesticide Action Network of North America suggests avoiding contact with the odorless gas at all costs. While swimming pool concentrations of CNCl are not nearly as high, the gas has even been used in cases of chemical warfare.

The researchers say even more chlorine — the most commonly applied method for controlling the cleanliness of pool water — can actually combat the dangerous gas, but there’s an obvious and much simpler solution. Hold it, ladies and gentlemen.