Purdue professor says peeing in pools could lead to dangerous chemical reactions

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Whether it's a community pool or at your home, chances are people are urinating in it. While it may seem like a gross but small problem, a Purdue University environmental engineer says letting go in the pool can be extremely harmful to your health.

"There are a number of chemicals in urine that will react with chlorine and when they react, they generate compounds that can be dangerous or at least irritating to humans," said Professor Ernest Blatchley.

Blatchley has studied the impacts of peeing in the pool. Two compounds that are especially harmful are cyanogen chloride and trichloramine.

"Trychloramine also is generated in every pool that has people and chlorine in it and it's more of an irritant. It will cause irritation of your throat, your eyes and it also causes corrosion of things like stainless steel at pools," Blatchley said

The problem is, pools don't have the technology to detect how much of those dangerous compounds are present. But you can sniff them out.

"One way to gauge that is really kind of the smell, so the kind of chlorine smell that goes with a pool is largely associated with trichloramine or nitrogen trichloride. That is the kind of characteristic chlorine odor that goes with pools. The stronger that odor is, the higher the concentration is likely to be," Blatchley said.

Blatchley says peeing in the pool shouldn't be something people think is normal and accepted. He thinks we can change how our culture views the act by talking about the chemistry associated with it.

"Taking a shower before you get in the pool and not peeing in the pool are two pretty simple things to do and they're just simply respectful of the people you're around."

There’s also research out there that links dangerous compounds in pools to increased asthma cases and certain types of cancer.

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