The summer is almost here. Many people are looking forward to spending their days by the pool. Recent research suggests that your pool may be laced with something else besides water. There is no way to determine how much urine is in our pools, but we all suspect that there is. Though the presence of urine in a swimming pool isn’t a big issue, it’s not a negligible health risk.
The Level of Urine in Our Pools
Up until now — thanks to researchers at Canada’s University of Alberta — there was no way of assessing the amount of urine in a pool. These scientists have come up with a new way which involves measuring the levels of an artificial sweetener present in urine to measure the amount of urine in a pool. Acesulfame potassium is the name of the sweetener, which was present in the 29 hot tubs sampled by the chemists in both Alberta and British Columbia.
This sweetener is mostly found in chewing gum, toothpaste, desserts, beverages, and condiments. Acesulfame potassium passes the body without being metabolized, hence a good proxy for urine. Unlike potassium, urea and other markers of urine that also appear in sweat as well, the sweetener is exclusively secreted in urine. In a pool that is one-third the size of an Olympic-size swimming pool (220,000-gallon), there were an estimated 20 gallons of urine. There were nearly 8 gallons of urine in an 110,000-gallon residential pool.
The mixture of personal beauty products, sweat, and urine reacts with chlorine in the pool to form a layer of disinfection by-products. The side effects of this chlorine compound include irritation in the skin, lung, and eyes. However, the lead scientist on the project maintained that the benefits of a swimming workout outweigh the risks associated with the compound.