Is Peeing in the Pool Safe?
July 25, 2022
Whether you like it or not, some people pee in swimming pools. Being in a pool containing pee doesn’t sound appealing, but it isn’t dangerous.
Chlorine is added to swimming pools to kill germs, including microbes that are present in pee. A well-managed pool should destroy any harmful bacteria from urine.
“The urine in swimming pools is more of a ‘gross’ factor than a health hazard,” says Ravjot Sodhi, M.D., medical director at Hackensack Meridian Urgent Cares. “You won’t risk your health if you’re in a pool where people have peed.”
The Germs Found in Swimming Pools
Swimming pools contain much more than water, chlorine and swimmers. When people enter the water, they may leave behind:
- Moisturizers or lotions
- Skin cells
- Trace amounts of poop
“Pools may require people to shower before entering the water,” says Dr. Sodhi. “This helps wash away some substances that would otherwise enter the pool.”
How Chlorine Kills Germs in a Pool
Chlorine added to pool water releases hypochlorous acid, which breaks down microbe cell walls. This weak acid destroys E. coli, salmonella and other foreign substances, including bacteria from pee.
When chlorine interacts with microbes in the pool, the process creates chemical byproducts. This causes the so-called “chlorine” smell associated with swimming pools.
“A brand-new swimming pool with nothing but water and chlorine won’t have the chemical smell,” says Dr. Sodhi. “Chlorine mixing with pee, sweat, sunscreen and other substances causes this odor.”
These chemical byproducts – not chlorine itself – may cause swimmers to experience:
- Eyes that burn and become red
- A runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
If you’re sensitive to the chemical smell of swimming pools, go to outdoor pools. The odor may linger in indoor spaces, because the chemicals may become trapped inside.
Crowded pools may need chlorine added to them more frequently to keep them well-regulated. More swimmers mean that chlorine must destroy more sweat, pee and skin cells.
Tips to Prevent Peeing in the Pool
While it isn’t dangerous to swim in pools containing pee, it isn’t exactly ideal. To keep the water cleaner, encourage your family to practice good pool hygiene:
- Have everyone use the bathroom before they get into the pool.
- Ask everyone to briefly shower off before entering the water.
- Remind everyone to exit the pool to use the bathroom when the urge strikes.
- Briefly leave the pool every hour to take young children to the restroom.
- Change your baby or toddler’s swim diaper every hour.
“If everyone adopted these habits, there would be less pee and fewer germs in swimming pools,” says Dr. Sodhi.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our source: Ravjot Sodhi, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Sodhi, or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
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