Scientists Figured Out How to Find Exactly How Much Pee Is in the Average Pool

Spoiler: You might not like the answer.

More From Healthy Habits
20 articles
Woman sitting outside a french cafe wearing a grey jumper
Learning a Language Really Can Make You Smarter
stretch
6 Easy Moves to Get Flexible Again
ashley graham diet
What Ashley Graham Really Eats in a Day

Oh, peeing in the pool: We all think it's gross, and yet most (if not all) of us have done it at least once — Olympic swimmers (ahem, Ryan Lochte) included. But that leads us to a pretty disturbing question... How much of the pool water is actually urine?

Well, while our (equally disturbing) response to that question would be a little dry heaving, a couple defeated shrugs, and, finally, a triumphant cannonball off the diving board, a team of Canadian researchers has come up with a much more useful answer.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

To conduct the March 2017 study, the University of Alberta team first had to figure out how they'd identify pee in pool water. (Science, amirite?) The researchers sought out a compound that would be consistently present in our pee and ultimately settled on acesulfame potassium (ACE), a type of artificial sweetener that's found in a wide variety of products (read: we pretty much all consume it) and that our bodies can't break down, which means we excrete it via our urine.

More From Healthy Habits
20 articles
Woman sitting outside a french cafe wearing a grey jumper
Learning a Language Really Can Make You Smarter
stretch
6 Easy Moves to Get Flexible Again
ashley graham diet
What Ashley Graham Really Eats in a Day
meghan markle diet
What Meghan Markle Actually Eats in a Day
best time to shower
This Is the Best Time to Take a Shower

Then, for three weeks, the researchers monitored the levels of ACE in two public pools. One pool, which held 110,000 gallons of water, had almost 8 gallons of urine released into it over the course of the three weeks — the other pool, which held 220,000 gallons of water, had almost 20 gallons of urine released into it. (Pssst: That's a lot of pee.) They also measured the levels of ACE in 250 samples from 31 other pools and hot tubs, which were found to contain an average of 570 times more pee than tap water. So that's not great.

Now here's the extra uplifting part: The researchers say that the "nitrogenous compounds" in our urine react with chlorine in a way that generates "disinfection byproducts," aka substances that can cause eye irritation and respiratory problems. But there isn't really a quick 'n' easy way to test for pee in pools, so unless you literally watch the surrounding swimmers, erm, do their thing, you probably won't know how pee-filled a pool really is — which is why the study authors are advocating for more public discussion about proper pool hygiene habits.

"The best way to discourage people from urinating in pools is public education regarding appropriate swimming hygiene practices," lead study author Lindsay Blackstock, a PhD student at the University of Alberta, told ResearchGate. "We recommend that all pool users should rinse off excess personal care products in the provided showers before entering public pools. Additionally, we should all be considerate of others and make sure to exit the pool to use the restroom."

So... there you have it.

[h/t The Huffington Post]

More from Dr Oz The Good Life: