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What percentage of adults pee in pools?

What percentage of adults pee in pools?

Millions of Americans will soon head to their local swimming pool, but a new survey finds that many swimmers aren’t aware they might be wading into potential health risks at the pool.

Would swimmers know? The annual Healthy Pools survey, conducted by the Water Quality & Health Council, found that 63 percent of adults have never checked health inspection reports before swimming in a public pool, with another 15 percent checking those reports only sparingly. In response, the Water Quality & Health Council, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Swimming Pool Foundation ® (NSPF ® ) are teaming up to get the word out about healthy and safe swimming before Memorial Day weekend.

Why worry? These survey findings are especially concerning in light of a 2016 CDC report that found nearly 8 in 10 routine inspections of public pools turned up at least one violation of health and safety rules, and 1 in 8 found problems so serious the pool had to be closed immediately.

“Swimmers and parents of young swimmers can take a few simple but effective steps to help protect themselves and their families from germs and maximize fun at the pool,” said Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, epidemiologist and chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “Stay out or keep your kids out of the water if sick with diarrhea, check the pool’s latest inspection score, and do your own mini-inspection before getting in the water.”

Swimmers admit to… In the national survey, swimmers admitted to some unhealthy swimming habits, including:

  • Most adults (52 percent) never shower before swimming. Only 29 percent shower for at least one minute, the length of time needed to remove most contaminants from a swimmer’s body.
  • One in four swimmers (27 percent) admits that they have peed in the pool as an adult.
  • 17 percent of adults would swim within one hour of having diarrhea. This is especially concerning because Cryptosporidium (or Crypto), a microscopic parasite, is the most common cause of diarrheal illness linked to pools.

“Swimming is a rite of summertime, but swimmers’ unhealthy swimming habits can make loved ones sick,” said Dr. Chris Wiant, chair of the Water Quality & Health Council. “We all share the water we swim in. And although chlorine and other pool chemical disinfectants are effective at disinfecting pools, they might be used up by contaminants, such as pee, sweat, and dirt from swimmers’ bodies. Chlorine mixing with these contaminants is what makes swimmers’ eyes red, not chlorine in and of itself. Protect yourself and loved ones by showering before going in the pool and don’t pee in the water.”

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Swimmers might be able to check pool inspections online or on-site at the pool facility. Public (non-residential) pools are typically inspected by the health department; backyard pools are not. “Before you go to or get in the water, ask if they have Certified Pool/Spa Operators on staff,” suggests Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of NSPF ® .

Where to look? The Water Quality & Health Council has compiled a list of local and state health departments that provide online access to swimming pool inspection reports. If you do not see your local community or state listed, contact your local or state health department, or ask the pool’s manager directly for more information.

Well-maintained pools are less likely to spread germs. Swimmers can keep healthy before getting in the water by checking the pool’s latest inspection results and by making sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible. Also, use pool test strips to confirm the water’s chlorine or bromine level and pH are correct. The CDC recommends pH of 7.2 – 7.8, with free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas, and free bromine concentration of at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

Get your pool test kit: The Water Quality & Health Council is offering free pool test kits through its award-winning Healthy Pools awareness initiative. Swimmers can use the kit to measure chlorine levels and pH in backyard or public pools. They can also drop them in their luggage to check hotel, motel, and theme park pools while on vacation.

The 2018 Healthy Pools survey, conducted online by Sachs Media Group, measured perceptions and behaviors related to swimming pools and public health. Sachs Media Group interviewed 3,000 American adults, April 19 to May 1, 2018. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percent.

Please Stop Peeing In The Swimming Pool, CDC Says

I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order.

May 31, 2019, 01:22am EDT |
This article is more than 3 years old.

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It is a swimming pool, not a toilet. (Photo: Getty Images)

Yes, there is a «p» in the word pool. But that doesn’t mean there should be pee in the pool. A swimming pool is not a toilet. Toilets typically do not have other people swimming in it. If there is a person in your toilet, you may want to call a plumber or the police.

Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still felt compelled to tweet the following plea about pee:

Pee in the toilet, not in the pool! When people pee in the pool, it leaves less chlorine available to kill germs. Learn more:

If you are wondering why the CDC even needed to issue this reminder, take a look at results from the 2019 Healthy Pools survey. The Sachs Media Group conducted this survey online from April 12 to April 13 and asked 3,100 American adults questions about their swimming pool, ahem, behaviors. The sample was supposed to be nationally representative in terms of age, race, gender, income, and region.

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The survey results showed a number one problem: 40% of the adults surveyed admitted to peeing in swimming pools. Not as infants. Not as children, but as full grown adults. Yes, apparently, in many cases, if you think you are swimming water that’s pee free, urine for a surprise.

Then, there’s the number two problem. Nearly a quarter (24%) of the respondents said that they would enter a swimming pool «within one hour of having diarrhea.» Yes, within a single hour of having diarrhea. Talk about being dung wrong.

Again, these are the percentages of people who admitted to such behaviors. As you probably know, people aren’t always great about admitting things. After all, 30% of Tinder users are already married. So, you can only imagine how many more people are using swimming pools as toilets.

The CDC also gave two reasons why it’s bad to pee in swimming pools. Pee, like poop, sweat, dirt, skin cells, and personal care products, such as deodorant and makeup, can chemically react with the chlorine in the pool, you know the stuff that is supposed to kill germs in the pool. This reaction not only decreases the amount of chlorine available in the pool but also generates chloramines. Amines are compounds with nitrogen. Chloramines can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, and breathing passages. It can even trigger asthma attacks. For example, a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology showed how the nitrogen in pee can react with chlorine to form cyanogen chloride, which can then like tear gas. Yes, tear gas.

Here’s an American Chemical Society video on this reaction:

In case you are not disgusted yet, the 2019 Healthy Pools survey identified a third problem. Over half (51%) of the respondents admitted that there were times that even though they had to shower, such as after exercising or doing yardwork, they still just jumped right into the pool. In fact, 48% of the survey respondents indicated that they never showered before swimming. This didn’t seem to be a knowledge issue since 64% of those surveyed knew that even though chemicals like chlorine are added to pool water, you are still supposed to shower before you enter a swimming pool.

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Come on people. Is it too much to ask for you to get out of the swimming pool when you have to pee, shower before you jump in the pool, and don’t go swimming when you have diarrhea? It’s supposed to be a place for others to swim, not a pee party.

Pee In Swimming Pools: 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Want To Know

Ok, the concept of swimming around in a urine infused pool is disgusting! However, when it comes to the choice between sizzling in the sun and taking a nice fresh dip, there are few of us who can resist – pee or not!

In this article, you will find a list of all of the things you wanted (or didn’t want) to know about the levels of urine found in most pools… Delightful!

1. How Many People Have Admitted To Peeing In Swimming Pools?

You’d think there would be few people who would admit to the unsavory act of peeing in the swimming pool, however, some 2012 Olympic swimmers did just that.

According to the Telegraph, US swimmer, Ryan Lochte, said: “I think there’s just something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go,” and his team-mate, Michael Phelps, agreed it was acceptable behavior. “I think everybody pees in the pool,” he said. “Chlorine kills it, so it’s not bad.”

As it turns out, one in five members of the public openly admit to having peed in the pool in their lifetime!

2. How Likely Are You To Find Pee In The Pool?

You will most definitely find pee in any public swimming facility that you go to – it’s a fact.

The question is: How much is in there and should you be worried for your health after a swim?

In a study from earlier this year, it was found that there were 75 litres of urine in a pool with a capacity of 830,000 litres… That’s not so bad, right?

RIGHT! This level of urine isn’t enough to make you instantly ill, although I seriously wouldn’t recommend drinking pool water just to be safe! Besides chlorine YUCK!

3. Can Pee In Public Pools Harm Your Health?

You may be astounded to discover that urine is actually 95% water. The remaining 5% is made up of the byproducts of digestion including

  • Urea: A compound that is produced in the liver to transport excess ammonia and nitrogen out of the body
  • Urid acid: This is an antioxidant that helps with repairing damaged cells and disposing of certain foods and drinks
  • Chloride, sodium, bicarbonate: Essential life chemicals
  • Microscopic debris
  • Dead blood cells
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As Bear Grylls sometimes demonstrates, getting a little bit of recycled urine in your system will not kill you. However, you mustn’t drink your pee if you can avoid it and you mustn’t drink it more than once or you do run the risk of damaging your vital organs.

Urine is actually sterile whilst in the bladder. It’s the urethra and genital tissue it passes through on the way out that can infect it with bacteria or disease. Fear not though, most pools contain chemicals that will kill bacteria.

4. How To Tell If Someone Has Peed In A Public Pool

There are rumours of magical chemicals that indicate when a person pees in the pool by turning the urine into a noticeable color. This is a myth!

It is undefined where this legend came from, the logic of embarrassing people into using the correct facility for their bodily functions is a pretty good concept – especially for those with small children.

You cannot tell how many people have peed in a pool by observation alone. Finding this out requires a lot of research, testing and equipment that unfortunately just isn’t practical to take to your morning dip.

A good indicator of someone relieving themselves near you can be temperature changes in the water. Urine leaves the body at just under core body temperature (35.6 Degrees Celsius), so our advice is, if you feel a sudden warmth emerging around you, move away from those surrounding you immediately!

The chances are, someone can’t be bothered to walk to the toilet…

5. How To Stop Your Children Peeing In The Pool

We all know that children are serial offenders when it comes to peeing in the pool, and some even let out a little giggle while they do it!

Just because it’s a child peeing in the pool, it doesn’t make the concept any more delightful, even if the child is your own. So why not use the water colour changing myth to your advantage to inspire good pool etiquette?

There are some children that will test this theory anyway (kids will be kids), however for those with slightly more self-conscious children, it’s the perfect tactic!

All you need to do is save a coloured plastic bottle (blue or red works best) and fill it with water. Before your children start splashing, explain to them that if they pee in the pool, the “chemicals” that you have in your bottle will change the colour of the water so you will know who the culprit was.

Pour a small amount of water from the bottle into the pool in front of the children to cement your lie that clear is clean and tell the children that the water best be clean by the time they get out as you will be testing it again with your magic “chemicals”.

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6. How To Test How Much Pee Is In Your Pool

If you are fortunate enough to have a swimming pool of your own, then testing the chemical balance of your pool is a con you’re going to have to deal with at some point. You can do this using a pH testing kit.

From the results of the pH test, you will be able to determine whether or not you need to top up your pool chemicals.

Unfortunately, unless you’re a mad scientist with an underground lab, you’re not likely to have the facilities to accurately test how much pee is in your pool, however, this video should help you to learn about how urine levels in pools can be determined if you really want to know.

7. Why Do People Pee In The Pool?

You’ve got to admit, peeing in the pool is disgustingly quite common and (in some social circles) reasonably socially acceptable. Usually when in a swimming pool, you’re enjoying some well-earned you time, so why would you want to disturb it by going to the toilet…right or wrong?

Either way, here is a list of common reasonings behind the taboo act of peeing in the pool that people just love to use to explain their behaviour:

  • No access to toilets – “The erm… the toilet was out of order and where else was I supposed to go?”
  • Bursting for a wee – “I can’t hold in my pee! It’s a wonder there aren’t other things in there too!”
  • The thrill! – “I do it because it feels good and I’m not ashamed”
  • They can get away with it – “I’m a real slooth, no one even notices”
  • Who’s going to stop them? – “Oi mate, I can’t help but notice the water just warmed up a little, was that you?”

These aren’t really valid reasons to go spreading urine over the local baths, but they’re explainations that give a bit more insight into the pool pee-er’s mindset.

You may have heard different answers to the question: why do people pee in the pool, but let’s be honest, nine times out of ten, there is just no need for it.


Unless your splash zone is private, there is nothing you can do about people peeing in the pool. Don’t let this put you off going for a gym swim or enjoying a dip on your next holiday though.

As I said before, the average pool doesn’t contain a damaging amount of urine and certainly isn’t likely to make you ill.

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