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posted by janrinok on Thursday March 27 2014, @10:56PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the admit-it-you've-done-it-too dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

Urine is sterile, and chlorine is sterilizing. At least that's the justification swimmers offer themselves, to counter their shame. What's more, decorated Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte admit they do it too. "It's kind of a normal thing to do with swimmers," says Phelps. "You know, when we're in the water for two hours we don't really get out, you know, to pee."

It turns out that it's a pretty bad idea, for more reasons than just the ick factor as Julie Beck writes that a new study published in the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, has looked at the chemistry of what happens when urine meets chlorine, and it's not pretty. When researchers mixed uric acid, found in both urine and sweat, with chlorine, they found that both trichloramine and cyanogen chloride form within an hour. "We know that there are associations between some of these chemicals and adverse human health outcomes, so we're motivated to understand the chemistry behind their formation and decay," says Ernest Blatchley III.

Exposure to trichloramine has been linked to respiratory problems (PDF), and cyanogen chloride can adversely affect the lungs, central nervous system, and cardiovascular system. Another issue is if a lot of people are peeing in the pool, there's the potential for a lot of cyanogen chloride to form, depleting the chlorine in the pool. While the cyanogen chloride would normally decay quickly, less chlorine means it might stick around longer, and that could be a real problem. All of this is to say that peeing in the pool is not harmless, despite Phelps' and Lochte's claims that it's normal and everybody does it. "There's a lot of people in the swimming community who look up to these people and listen to what they have to say," says Blatchley "[Phelps and Lochte] are not chemists and shouldn't be making statements that are that false."

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  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:12PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:12PM (#22290) Homepage

    Don't most pools use bromine rather than chlorine nowadays? People with decent manners tend to excuse themselves from the pool to urinate anyway, even if it is all over the backyard fauna. But as the booze keeps flowing, and people start doing backflips, they become lazier with respect to excuse themselves from the pool. By the end of the night, everybody's in the pool filling it with pee as the luckier ones copulate and discharge what we call "going number 3" in the pool, so in fact the pool becomes a cesspool.

    Of course, Jacuzzis are even worse. Their small size means that intoxicated and rude people will quickly fill it with piss. I have a funny story about that, actually, which takes place in Los Angeles: Sitting down in the jacuzzi, facing outward so as to read my Reader and sip on my forty of Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor [ratebeer.com] when a big Black man and his big Black girlfriend both get in and sit at the opposite end. By the time they get in, the jacuzzi has already been filled with 3 pissings worth of urine, but sooner rather than later I felt the water begin to slap my back as the two started undulating as I got two more pissings in. I turned around, picking up my forty and looking the man in the eye asking, "Yo, wanna sip?" The man declined, looking somewhat embarassed, and then the amplitude of the water slap was damped as the action ground to a halt. She asked, "Baby, what's wrong?" and the two begin to mutter back and forth about something. They both finally emerged from the jacuzzi wearing looks of shame as I turned and waved goodbye, "Later, man!"

    This is totally on topic because it was about the subject or the summary of the article that was posted...by the editor, because we can all act like adults and not be all vulgar about this. It's what distinguishes us from Mexicans and other animals.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by omtinez on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:27PM

      by omtinez (2733) on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:27PM (#22293)

      It's what distinguishes us from Mexicans and other animals

      Can someone with mod points please do justice to this type of comments?

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:34PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:34PM (#22295)

        Somebody apparently laughed at the first 98% of the comment. Then they saw the final four words of the comment, and not only hated the author for conveying potentially racist overtones, but hated himself for being so easily deceived and weak-willed so as to so readily change his mind and still knowing that he was led so by design; all at a great bruising to his fragile ego.

        There there, Pedro. Would it make you feel better to know that Whites and Blacks are also technically animals?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hellcat on Friday March 28 2014, @12:19AM

      by hellcat (2832) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 28 2014, @12:19AM (#22311) Homepage

      No word on concentrations. It's one thing for chemists to point to a chemical pathway, but exposures are usually gauged in microliters per kilogram body mass - a kind of ppm measure. My guess is that even if every swimmer let loose a 10ml urine sample, it would be somewhere in the 1ppm category in an olympic sized pool. Care to do the calcs?

      As for bromine, it's used in spas because you have a much higher body load to water volume ratio. It's a safer compound in that you can load it to much higher levels in order to compensate for the higher bacterial load.

      Chlorine is still the biocide of choice for large volumes.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday March 28 2014, @02:31AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Friday March 28 2014, @02:31AM (#22355) Homepage

        What am I remembering about Los Angeles Water & Power shifting from chlorine to bromine? the gist was that now the water needs to be protected from sunlight, because sunlight makes the bromines form nasty compounds.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Covalent on Friday March 28 2014, @02:54AM

        by Covalent (43) on Friday March 28 2014, @02:54AM (#22366) Journal

        OK, I'll bite.

        Volume of olympic swimming pool: 2,500,000L (wikipedia) (2,500 m^3)
        Volume of urine produced by a human 1 - 2L per day in (on average) 4 voids a day (wikipedia)

        OK, so let's say 0.4L of urine per void. Let's also say that all 8 swimmers in a pool pee in the pool just before a race. That's 3.2L of urine.

        Uric acid has a concentration of around 300 mg/L. That's about 1 g of uric acid.

        That's about 0.4 ppm in the water.

        http://annhyg.oxfordjournals.org/content/56/3/264. full [oxfordjournals.org] says that 0.5 mg / m^3 is the exposure limit of trichloramine in air. It's late so I'm going with that number for water exposure, too. Reasonable? No. But I'm doing it.

        So, in the worst case scenario all of this uric acid is turned to trichloramine (a bit of a stretch, but there is excess chlorine, so I'm going with that). And assume the trichloramine all stays in the water (probably some escapes into the air but we'll ignore that).

        OK, drum roll please...

        The concentration of trichloramine would be in the neighborhood of 1500 g (you add mass with those 3 chlorine atoms) / 2500 m^3 = 0.6 mg/m^3.

        Now, a lot of those assumptions most likely inflated the amounts of TCA that would be produced, but then I also used just 8 swimmers. After doing this math, it would appear that the premise of this article is at least plausible: TCA might be produced in large enough quantities in a swimming pool from urine and chlorine to pose a health risk.

        Wow.

        --
        You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by freetown on Friday March 28 2014, @04:10AM

          by freetown (3917) on Friday March 28 2014, @04:10AM (#22385)

          There have been studies on this topic and links are aggregated on a page quite appropriately titled: Bad pool air [trianglealumni.org]

          However, not all links work. Excerpt from one linked study:Exposure to trichloramine and respiratory symptoms in indoor swimming pool workers [pwtag.org] made this estimate of trichloramine in the air: Estimated trichloramine levels ranged 0.38 to 1.10 mg/ cubic m., with an average concentration of 0.66 mg/cubic m.

          I guess that means the mathematics work out and it hits the air pretty bad too. It is not just a plausible health risk, it is a health risk.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by c0lo on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:14PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:14PM (#22291) Journal

    Can it result in a terrorist attack? Or the exposure of intelligence agents abroad? No?
    Then we'll continue to experience such leaks for the foreseeable future.

    (grin)

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Scareb on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:31PM

    by Scareb (981) on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:31PM (#22294)

    Chlorine itself in high enough concentration is bad for humans... dilute it in a large pool of water and not so much (if proportioned right)..

    Of course keeping with time honored tradition, I did not read TFS.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by stderr on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:52PM

      by stderr (11) on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:52PM (#22301) Journal

      ... dilute it in a large pool of water ...

      Wait a minute! That sounds like homeopathy [soylentnews.org].

      --
      alias sudo="echo make it yourself #" # ... and get off my lawn!
      • (Score: 2) by JeanCroix on Friday March 28 2014, @01:00PM

        by JeanCroix (573) on Friday March 28 2014, @01:00PM (#22484)
        From what I understand of homeopathy dilution levels, there'd be a much higher concentration of pee in a pool from a single incident, than the concentration of any actual ingredient in your standard homeopathic tincture.
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by gordo on Friday March 28 2014, @12:42AM

      by gordo (1169) on Friday March 28 2014, @12:42AM (#22319)

      Chlorine gas (Cl2) is lethal in even small amounts. Chlorine ions suspended in water are generally not.

      • (Score: 2) by snick on Friday March 28 2014, @12:52AM

        by snick (1408) on Friday March 28 2014, @12:52AM (#22322)

        Chlorine that has been introduced to sodium (another nasty piece of work when it is on its own) makes food tasty.

      • (Score: 2) by hankwang on Friday March 28 2014, @06:57AM

        by hankwang (100) on Friday March 28 2014, @06:57AM (#22404) Homepage

        "Chlorine gas (Cl2) is lethal in even small amounts. Chlorine ions suspended in water are generally not."

        What is your point? What you smell in a swimming pool is chlorine gas. In swimming pool water you have a chemical equilibrium between hypochlorite ions (ClO-) an chlorine molecules (Cl2). ChloriDe ions (Cl-) are there from sweat, urine, and as a reaction product after hypochlorite has oxidized other materials.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:47PM (#22298)

    "There's a lot of people in the swimming community who look up to these people and listen to what they have to say," says Blatchley "[Phelps and Lochte] are not chemists and shouldn't be making statements that are that false."

    The thing is, if you look at the statements Phelps and Lochte did make, they were:

    "It's kind of a normal thing to do with swimmers," says Phelps. "You know, when we're in the water for two hours we don't really get out, you know, to pee."

    and

    All of this is to say that peeing in the pool is not harmless, despite Phelps' and Lochte's claims that it's normal and everybody does it.

    Phelps and Lochte never claimed it was harmless to pee in the pool. Why would they? They're are not chemists.

    When they made the statements about whether or not most swimmers go out of the water to pee, they made those statements as swimmers and they probably know a lot better than Ernest Blatchley III, if those statements are true or false.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday March 28 2014, @11:08AM

      by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday March 28 2014, @11:08AM (#22453) Journal

      Well said. Also, if pool-pissing is such a common thing among athletes, couldn't the effects be measured by, oh I dunno, doing a statistical study on the health of competitive swimmers? Do old swimmers have a higher occurrence of the mentioned respiratory problems and whatnot? I mean it's not like swimming is a new sport so there's no long term data to look at.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Hell_Rok on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:48PM

    by Hell_Rok (2527) on Thursday March 27 2014, @11:48PM (#22299) Homepage

    I always thought this was a joke. Who would be disgusting enough to do this?

    My parents had a pool when I was growing up and no matter how young or drunk I was I never thought it was ok to piss in the pool. Sure after a couple of beers I took aim at the fence rather than a real dunny but it's a lot better than the pool.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @12:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @12:00AM (#22304)

      I purposely get in the pool to pee. I can't even swim!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @01:11AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @01:11AM (#22326)

        Pro-tip: You don't have to get in the pool at all.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @07:22AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @07:22AM (#22409)

      I find it sexually arousing.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by zim on Friday March 28 2014, @12:18AM

    by zim (1251) on Friday March 28 2014, @12:18AM (#22309)
    Some chemists were PAID to piss on stuff to 'see what happens'.
  • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Friday March 28 2014, @01:26AM

    by istartedi (123) on Friday March 28 2014, @01:26AM (#22329) Journal

    Between the swimming pool and leaded gasoline, it's a wonder I made it past the age of six. Now, I'm not saying it's a good idea to pee in the pool. It's just that there is no need to freak. FWIW, I never made a habit of pissing in the pool. Now the ocean... that's another story. At the pool the bath/shower was right friggin' there. Maybe it was 50 feet from the edge of the pool to relief. Under those circumstances, not stepping out is just rude. At the ocean, you had to get out, walk across sand, into the motel, let your parents know what was up. For pee? It just wasn't worth it. Pissing in the ocean is like... pissing in the ocean. That said, you sometimes see advisories around the Bay Area beaches not to go swimming because of bacteria due to sewage. I doubt that's from bathers though. It's from poorly maintained municipal sewage systems overflowing. Yuck. Whales, sea lions, dolphins and every fish in the sea pisses off the coast; but I don't think that'd be enough to cause these alerts. I don't think surfers pissing in their wet suits would do it either. So. Pool? No. Ocean? Yes.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday March 28 2014, @02:40AM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday March 28 2014, @02:40AM (#22360)

      TFS is pretty clear I think: urine is sterile, so bacteria isn't a problem there. The problem with urine is how it reacts with chlorine, found in pools. Oceans don't have chlorine (they have sodium chloride, which is different). So you don't have anything to worry about.

      Besides, whales and dolphins are mammals too, and (IANABiologist) likely have urine similar to our own, and they certainly don't get out to pee.

  • (Score: 2) by carguy on Friday March 28 2014, @02:25AM

    by carguy (568) on Friday March 28 2014, @02:25AM (#22349)

    We don't swim in your toilet so please don't piss in our pool and make trichloramine and cyanogen chloride.

    Coming soon to the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog --
          "This is the most up to date and chemically correct pool reminder."

  • (Score: 1) by maddening milkshakes on Friday March 28 2014, @02:34AM

    by maddening milkshakes (3983) on Friday March 28 2014, @02:34AM (#22359)

    I find if I add a couple hundred candiru to my pool it really cuts down on the tricholoamine.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @07:10AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @07:10AM (#22408)

    Just POO.

    (GODDAMN FILTER! tooshortcommenttosubmit)

  • (Score: -1) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @09:30AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @09:30AM (#22434)

    i have a (outdoor) pool. it's a lot of work.

    I have found that warm, sunny days are just plain bad for free chlorine.
    that's the poison stuff that kills zem germs by the way.
    so on warm sunny days i pee in the pool. why?
    because it stabilizes ze poison and turn chlorine into more UV resistant
    trichloramin or whatever it's called.
    and if ze pool starts to "smell like chlorine" i throw in more chlorine.
    the "chlorine smell" is actually the smell of too much trichloramin so
    by throwing in more "regular chlorine" the tri one changes back to the less smelly form.
    -
    please don't pee in the pool if you don't have a phd from pool maintenance university though!
    peeing in the pool is for PROS! srsly!

  • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Friday March 28 2014, @10:40AM

    by RamiK (1813) on Friday March 28 2014, @10:40AM (#22447)

    No idea where people get the notion urine is sterile. Even while leaving the kidneys, there are always trace amounts of blood an once out the urethra it has collected plenty of the urethra's lining and bacteria.
    To be fair, I even heard a urologist repeat that nonsense while taking a schvitz and chatting with his friends...

    --
    compiling...
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Boxzy on Friday March 28 2014, @11:36AM

    by Boxzy (742) on Friday March 28 2014, @11:36AM (#22460) Journal

    When I wash, I use clean water. Everybody says "Go swimming, it's good clean fun".

    The one thing to remember, water that has touched others has also touched them EVERYWHERE.

    It is unclean, that's why chlorine in the first place.

    Would you get in a bath after a stranger was in it? Maybe in desperate circumstances but not as a rule.

    I also never believed (not a chemist) that extended exposure to chemicals that kill off bacteria could be safe, or why aren't home bathing products laced with chlorine? Don't tell me that's just because it smells bad.

    --
    Go green, Go Soylent.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @04:03PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @04:03PM (#22563)

    "There's a lot of people in the swimming community who look up to these people and listen to what they have to say," says Blatchley "[Phelps and Lochte] are not chemists and shouldn't be making statements that are that false."

    I think Blatchley is completely wrong. Saying peeing in the pool is "normal, and everybody does it" does not mean it is either good or bad, merely that it is "normal, and everybody does it". That is, saying peeing is bad while also normal and everybody does it are not contradictory statements. I don't find any false statements made.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @04:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @04:05PM (#22565)

    When I was a kid everyone's pool was chlorinated. Now that I'm a parent, every pool we've been to is salt water: public pools, private pools, swimming lessons, pool parties...Is this a regional thing?

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @04:08PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28 2014, @04:08PM (#22567)

    I assume shitting in the pool is still okay or does Mr. Prissy-Pants have a problem with that too!?

  • (Score: 1) by iWantToKeepAnon on Tuesday April 01 2014, @03:21PM

    by iWantToKeepAnon (686) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 01 2014, @03:21PM (#24239) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me or did the mention of "cyanogen" immediately bring to mind a certain droid os distro?

    --
    "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." -- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy