Swimming in a public pool? You're most likely swimming in pee

Urine was detected in 100% of pool samples tested by scientists


News Desk March 02, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

Scientists have been able to confirm the disgusting habit that we always knew but never accepted - people are peeing in the pool.

A group of researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada, found out how much urine is in pools and hot tubs by testing for an artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium (ACE).

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ACE and similar sweeteners are resistant to wastewater treatment processes, meaning they often find their way into rivers, lakes and groundwater.

Using a rapid, low-cost test developed in-house, the University of Alberta researchers found evidence of ACE in all of the samples, but in widely varying concentrations.

Lindsay Blackstock, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and lead author of the study said that their research "provides additional evidence that people are indeed urinating in public pools and hot tubs.”

The research team sampled 31 different pools and tubs in two Canadian cities (which they haven't disclosed) and found ACE to be present in 100% of the samples, with concentrations up to 570 times.

Hot tubs were in a worse off state than pools and contained higher concentration of urine. A hotel Jacuzzi had more than three times the concentration than in the worst swimming pool.

Speaking to The Guardian, Blackstock said, "We want to use this study to promote public education on appropriate swimming hygiene practices. We should all be considerate of others and make sure to exit the pool to use the restroom when nature calls.”

While most people would not admit to urinating in the pool, in an anonymous survey, 19% of adults admitted to having urinated in a swimming pool at least once.

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Professional swimmers have also accepted to engaging in this activity.

US swimmer, Ryan Lochte, in an interview before the 2012 Olympics said, “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go."

Twenty-three time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, also agreed it was acceptable behaviour. “I think everybody pees in the pool,” he said. “Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”

The study was published Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

This article originally appeared in The Guardian

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