What Happens When You Pee in the Pool

I know we can blame the kids all day long about them peeing in the pool or a toddler that comes with a dirty diaper half hanging off but mom’s letting them in the Pool with the rest of the children.  How about your uncle that hangs off the deep end of the pool with a cold one and more than a few, he never leaves the deep end of the pool. You know it but you just don’t say it. How is it you can drink a 6 pack and never leave the pool to take a pee What happens when you pee in the Pool?

  • Pee contains uric acid
  • It comes in contact with Free Chlorine in Pools
  • Reacts forming Chloramines & harmful disinfection by-products
  • like Trichloramine & Cyanogen chloride
  • Studies say Up to 8-20 gal. of urine in Public pools
  • 2-3 gals. in backyard pools, according to a study by the University of Alberta

According to a study done recently by the University of Alberta, there can be anywhere from 8-20 gallons of urine in a typical Public swimming pool,  or 2 or 3 gallons in a backyard pool. When this urine comes into contact with chlorine, it creates chloramines, which is what’s giving off the sour chlorine type of odor.  If people in the pool complain that their eyes burn while swimming, that’s another sign of trouble. Cyanogen chloride is a chemical created when someone pees in a pool. Most Pool Operators know it as Chloramines.

Urine In Pools


It’s a toxic chemical that causes your eyes to burn. Normally happens there are a lot of children using the swimming pool. That smell is one way to know that there is something wrong chemically with the pool water. Pee contains uric acid that is found in urine and comes in contact with the Chlorine in the pool it creates Chloramine which gives off that Chlorine gas above the waterline of the pool.

From my experience with water treatment and swimming pools, most pool operators will add extra chlorine when the use of the pool is expected to rise for that day. Maybe a birthday party for children or a Saturday at the Community Pool. That extra Chlorine is called Free available Chlorine.

Free Chlorine mixes with sweat from the crowded pool and maybe even pee in the pool water, this will increase the chances of Chloramines forming. free chlorine reacts with organic matter, for example, urine, saliva, and sweat, and forms a mixture of potentially harmful disinfection by-products, including chloramines 

Realistically, Chloramines are just unhealthy for people that have breathing problems, and the fact that Chloramines more often are developed when pH changes in the pool and the Chlorine loses its ability to sanitize properly and create toxic by-products.

A Center for Disease (CDC)  Besides Urine study in 2013 found that 58% of public pools sampled tested positive for E. coli bacteria —a marker for fecal contamination. You know what that means. It means that some swimmers are peeing and leaving some fecal content behind.

The study did not include Water Parks but it can be assumed that Water Parks are swimming pools and basically whatever is happening in a Public Pool is happening there too. The CDC says that the “use of swim diapers and swim pants might give users, parents, and pool staff a false sense of security regarding fecal contamination.”


Urine Indicator Dye for Pools


I raised 5 kids and we spent years in the summer months with their friends and the neighbors and their friends swimming in our Inground Pool. If I had a nickel for every time my wife and I told every single child who walked in the gates “Don’t pee in the pool guys” What would happen was the guilty person who took a leak in the pool would be identified by a purple or pink cloud that changes the color of the urine and surrounded the kid or adult that was the perpetrator. Marking them for all to see.

As far as We knew there was no marker or indicator that identified the guilty party. Though there is no such thing as a urine-detecting dye, the small white lie worked for many years until they all finally figured it all out. Sometimes you just got make something up to prevent it from happening.

Yea, I double-checked there is no indicator that changes color to catch someone peeing underwater. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know it even happened when you are Testing Pool Water.

Urine Detector in Pools


There’s an artificial sweetener called acesulfame potassium (ACE) that you can find in processed foods and drinks. Turns out, it can also be found in public pools. The same Researchers at the University of Alberta were able to estimate the amount of urine in 31 public pools by measuring the amount of ACE in them.

Their technique is one commonly used to study the impact of human waste on environmental water sources. The Synthetic Sweetener technique is a common method for measuring the effects of Human Waste on the environment. ACE is the perfect marker if you are looking for urine in the swimming pool.

The Human is not able to break it down so it will come straight out. Whatever a person ingests will be let go in the way of urinating. The only reason to find it in a Hot Tub or Swimming Pool is that someone urinated it there. So it makes for a great scientific way to figure out the amount of urine accumulated in the study.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, found that in a 110,000-gallon pool, swimmers released about seven gallons of urine — about enough to fill a large trash can. A 220,000-gallon pool contained almost 20 gallons.

There are many questions about the safety of Public pools and the popularity of Indoor and Outdoor Water Parks and their policies on Pool Water. This is with respect to how clean the water is. These studies were not done with the swimmers in mind but the employees that workers were being exposed to these by-products of Chlorine for lengths of time and had difficulties in breathing. Trichloramine levels were measured to evaluate relationships. The excess risk for respiratory symptoms indicative of asthma was observed in swimming pool employees.

Trichloramine NCl3 is most famous or infamous for being the product of the reaction of chlorine in swimming pools with urea in urine or sweat. It is much more responsible for pools’ chlorine smell than chlorine itself and is an indication something is wrong with the water. Trichloramine is the most volatile and is easily released into the air. It is considered to be irritating to the eye and upper airway.


What is the Best Swimming Pool Return Jets Position?

At the Deepest End of the pool
turn the Return Jets (eyeballs) located on the pool walls angled down toward the bottom of the pool at a 45° angle

In the Shallow End of the pool
turn Return Jets clockwise to about 8 o’clock at a 45° angle so the return water to the pool is mixing in a circular motion ………………………………………………………………… Read more


Most experts concluded that a lot of these issues won’t affect the pool if they follow some rules:

  1. Test often especially with larger groups in the pool-Use a reliable Pool Water Testing Kit or Electronic Tester anywhere like this one through Amazon
  2. Adjust the Chemistry of the Pool Water-Alkalinity & pH
  3. Make kids or adults shower before swimming-sweat is a culprit besides Urine
  4. If a toddler is in the pool they have to wear a swimming Diaper
  5. If anyone is sick and has diarrhea they shouldn’t swim in the pool
  6. Don’t Pee In The Pool
  7. Tell the Adults who drink beer in the Pool “Don’t Pee in the Pool”


Does it Matter What Kind of Algae is in My Pool?

No, Green, Yellow & Black are all treated the same

Balance H2O Chemistry
Scrub & brush the pool’s walls and floor
Run filter 24 hrs.
Super-chlorinate to 8ppm+
Use an algaecide 2-3 days after shocking
Use a Flocculant
Vacumn to waste
Increase Maintenance
Bump chlorine residual in between your shocking schedule ………………………………………………………………. Read more


   JimGalloway Author/Editor




The Molecule of the Week Archive- Trichloramine


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