“There are two kinds of people in the world,” a lifeguard told mental_floss recently. “Those that pee in the pool, and those that deny it."
We really don’t care that you’ve peed in the pool before. But we—and the American Chemical Society—do have one pretty compelling reason you should stop: your lungs. Read on and check out the video below if you think you’re ready for the truth.
It goes something like this. Standing water, like that in a swimming pool, is a breeding ground for germs, many of which could make us sick. To kill those germs, we dose our pools with disinfecting chemicals like chlorine. Ahhhh, yes. Chlorine. One of summer’s most distinctive, nostalgic aromas.
Except it isn’t. Or rather, chlorine is only part of it. The other essential chemical component is you … and your pee. And your poop particles. And your sweat.
On their own, chlorine and water smell like, well, chlorine and water. But stir in a little human juice, let sit for a few hours, and voila! You’ve got L’Aire de la Piscine Publique, better known as chloramine.
But trichloramine does more than produce enticing aromas. It also irritates and inflames our bodies. It’s trichloramine that makes our eyes burn and redden by the pool, and it’s trichloramine that gives us the in-pool sniffles. People like professional swimmers and lifeguards who are regularly exposed to trichloramine can develop more serious respiratory tract issues, including asthma. And nobody wants that.
So, the next time you’re ready to take the plunge, take a quick shower first to rinse off your particles. And if urine the pool and you feel the urge, well, get urself out and go find a bathroom.
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