It might not come as a huge shock, but now there's actually proof to back it up: peeing in the pool is harmful to swimmers' health. And that's bad news considering the Los Angeles Times reports one in five Americans admits to peeing in a public swimming pool.

As the LA Times explains:

In a new study, researchers from China Agricultural University and Purdue University looked at what happened when uric acid, a byproduct of urine, and chlorine combined. The group found dangerous chemical reactions were a result of this unholy union.

The combo kicks up cyanogen chloride, a gas that can harm the central nervous system, heart and lungs if inhaled. Uric acid is linked to 24% to 68% of this byproduct in pool water, the scientists said.

And you can chalk up 3% to 4% of the harmful byproduct trichloramine in pool water to uric acid. Nitrogen trichloramine (NC13) is a poisonous gas that can cause acute lung injury. The buildup of this gas can be so quick and so severe that researchers studying a national swimming competition found that NC13 levels doubled after one day of use. The gas levels increased as much as fourfold over the entire four-day competition.

The good news is, we can do something about this. Stop peeing in the pool! As the study says, peeing in the pool is "a voluntary action for most swimmers."

Another LA Times article also included this disgusting tidbit:

"More than half of the public pools tested in a new study contained bacterial evidence that someone may have pooped in the pool."

So, who's up for a swim?

Disgusting Swim Stats*

  • 19 percent of respondents admit they have urinated in a public swimming pool
  • 43 percent say they skip showering before swimming
  • 11 percent say they've gone swimming with a runny nose
  • Eight percent say they have swam with an exposed rash or cut
  • Less than one percent say they've swam when ill with diarrhea

*Source: 2012 Survey by Water Quality and Health Council

Michael Gaio is eMedia Editor of Athletic Business.