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How Much Urine Is in a Swimming Pool? Study Finds Disturbing Answer

Canadian researchers testing for urine in swimming pools and hot tubs found that urine not only is present in a greater quantity in these public places than you’d think, but is present in such volume as to be a “public health concern,” CBS News reports. Although urine is sterile, its other components can react with pools’ disinfectants to form irritating compounds, the news agency said.

In the U.S., these numbers translate to some startling revelations, as close to 80 percent of public pools, hot tubs and water playgrounds tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had at least one safety or hygiene violation. Not only that, 1 in 8 of the pools was so dirty that it had to be closed immediately after inspection, with “kiddy” pools for young children and infants being especially risky.

Researchers also found 32 different chemicals in swimming pool water, including flame retardants, caffeine and the insecticide, DEET.

Another CDC study revealed that feces frequently contaminate pool water, too. Fifty-eight percent of the pool filters the CDC tested in 2013 were found to contain E. coli bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, another type of bacteria that may cause ear infections and rashes, was found in 59 percent of pool filters tested, and this is just a fraction of the possible pool infections the CDC uncovered.

Infections aside, dangerous compounds also form when chlorine mixes with pee, poop, sweat and dirt. That said, an occasional trip to a well-maintained public pool likely poses a low risk for most people. You can minimize your after-exposure risks for infection by being sure to shower before and after entering the pool.
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