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Peeing in the pool

Written by: Editors

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20 percent of adults pee in the pool

Psssst … you ever had a sneaky wee in the pool? You’re not the only one! About 20 percent of adults secretly do an occasional pee while swimming. Although, there are some people who will openly admit it. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, for example, who confessed to regularly emptying his bladder in the pool during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. During training, he doesn’t have time to take a break. ‘The chlorine kills all bacteria’, he shrugs. ‘So it’s not harmful.’ But is this true.

Urine is not the problem

Phelps is partly right. Chlorine does kill certain bacteria. Not that this is really relevant because urine doesn’t contain bacteria. At least, as long as you don’t have a urinary tract infection. Peeing bathers are not a major problem, apart from the fact that it’s just a pretty gross idea of swimming in someone else’s urine.

There is one disadvantage: the chemical reaction that occurs when the chlorine in the bath water comes into contact with urine and other contaminants. In addition, a substance called trichloramine is released. This substance rises and remains suspended above the water as a cloud. This is the source of the familiar smell of chlorine you find in swimming pools. Trichloramine, however, causes more than just a penetrating odour.

Irritated airways

According to Dick Heederick, Professor of Health Risk Analysis at the University of Utrecht, trichloramine is an aggressive substance. And because the chlorine lingers above the water, you constantly inhale it. The result: irritated airways, a sore throat, voice problems and red eyes. People who have a lot of exposure to these fumes, such as lifeguards often suffer from these complaints.

Many people think that chlorine in swimming pools causes or aggravates asthma or COPD. Although trichloramine clearly stimulates the airways, this assertion has never been scientifically proven. Research also shows that children with asthma who swim a lot have an improved lung function. Swimming is undoubtedly very healthy. Regularly swimming improves your fitness, lowers your blood pressure, helps you maintain your weight and tone your muscles.

Why do we swim in chlorinated water?

If everyone dislikes chlorine and urine in the water is harmless, why do they continue to use that stuff? Well, because humans eject more than just a puddle. As it turns out, the perineum of the average adult swimmer appears to contain about 0.14 grammes of non-wiped faeces. And don’t forget the sweat, flakes of skin and hairs. Our saliva also contains bacteria, and what do you think sticks to the soles of your feet? That’s why chlorine is needed! It disinfects the water.

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