So here’s the thing. Somebody probably already has. Peeing in pools is more common than you would think. Sorry to be the bearer of this news, but it is not unusual to find levels of urine in most swimming pools. Prevention of the issue is the logical solution, but that is more difficult than one might believe. So rather than asking what to do if somebody pees in your pool, it might make more sense to proceed as if somebody already has.
There is a common myth circulating that if someone pees in the pool, it isn’t a big deal because the chlorine will “get rid of it.” Wrong. Urine is sterile, so chlorine can’t sanitize it. The problem is, the myth that chlorine kills urine is quite prevalent, giving many of us the notion that a little pee in the pool isn’t a big deal. Even Michael Phelps, Olympic champion swimmer, has admitted he pees in the pool and that “everybody does it, the chlorine kills it.” Gross, right?
When urine combines with chlorine, a chemical reaction occurs that is quite unhealthy for us humans. Urine is made up of organic waste compounds such as urea which, when combined with chlorine, produces cyanogen chloride, an extremely harmful compound. Cyanogen chloride is classified as a chemical warfare agent, causing lung irritation and choking. (gasp!)
Don’t Freak Out
Studies have shown that the typical residential swimming pool may contain up to two gallons of urine. Before you run off to drain your pool immediately, let’s examine that information. The fact is that even though traces of urine are found in most pools, the parts per million is so low that the danger of death is slim to none. You are more likely to die from the other users of the pool murdering you once they know you have peed in the pool they are sharing with you.
What’s the Harm?
You probably will not succumb to the cyanogen chloride that has formed in your pool. However, the problem is that even small amounts of cyanogen chloride can cause eye irritation, breathing difficulties, and possibly trigger asthma attacks. Your red eyes after swimming? Don’t blame excess chlorine in the water. More likely, your eye irritation results from the chemical reaction of urine and sweat binding with the chlorine.
What To Do?
- Shower before entering the pool. Sweat also contains uric acid, which, combined with chlorine, has a similar reaction to urine. Rinse off before diving in.
- Encourage kids to use the bathroom before getting in the pool.
- Have frequent bathroom breaks when using the pool.
- Dispel the myth that chlorine counteracts any urine in the pool. Precisely the opposite happens. Educate your pool users.
What Else Can Help?
- A proper balance of good filtration, adequate circulation, and the right balance of chemicals can go a long way in keeping the problem at bay. Make sure your pump and filter are up to date and functioning properly, and that you understand the correct chemical levels for maintaining a sanitary pool.
- The addition of specialty chemicals such as enzymes can boost the efficiency of chlorine. Enzymes can work to break down organic matter such as urea and noticeably improve the water quality.
- Secondary disinfection systems such as Ozone and UV can reinforce the sanitizing effects of chlorine. UV deactivates micro-organisms, and Ozone continuously “shocks” the pool.
Clearly, prevention is the number one solution to avoid having urine in your swimming pool. Nevertheless, even after education and everyone’s best intentions, we recommend taking a risk management approach to dealing with urine in your pool. Assume it is there, in whatever minimal parts per million, and address the issue. Don’t just wonder what to do if somebody pees in the pool. Take preventative measures and rest easier.
Aqua Pools is your one-stop-shop for all things pool related. Our professional team can address all your questions and concerns regarding an aggressive approach to maintaining the cleanest, most pristine pool in the Chicagoland area. Call or stop by today and let us see what we can do for you.