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Medicine Science

New Scientific Test Finds Up To 75 Liters of Urine In Public Pools (theguardian.com) 215

Scientists have developed a test designed to estimate how much urine has been covertly added to a large volume of water. "The test works by measuring the concentration of an artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium (ACE), that is commonly found in processed food and passed through the body unaltered," reports The Guardian. The findings are published in the American Chemical Society journal. From the report: After tracking the levels of the sweetener in two public pools in Canada over a three-week period they calculated that swimmers had released 75 liters of urine -- enough to fill a medium-sized dustbin -- into a large pool (about 830,000 liters, one-third the size of an Olympic pool) and 30 liters into a second pool, around half the size of the first. Although the researchers were unable to confirm exactly what fraction of visitors were choosing to quietly relieve themselves in the water rather than making the shivery trip to the changing rooms, the results suggest that the urine content was being topped up several times each day. The findings make for unwelcome reading, but swimmers might find some comfort in the measurements from eight hot tubs, which were found to have far higher urine levels. One hotel Jacuzzi had more than three times the concentration of sweetener than in the worst swimming pool. In total, the team sampled 31 different pools and tubs in two Canadian cities and found ACE to be present in 100% of the samples, with concentrations up to 570 times the background level in tap water samples. They used the average ACE concentration in Canadian urine to convert their measurements into approximate volumes of urine.
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New Scientific Test Finds Up To 75 Liters of Urine In Public Pools

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  • No shit (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:36PM (#53959567)

    nope, no shit, just pee

    • . . . and we go directly from sweet tea to sweet pee.
      Now THAT's science.

    • Yes, but what part of it is actually from sweat? Urine ~= sweat
      • Yes, sweat contains urea. But they didn't measure urea, they measured acesulfame potassium. Does sweat contain acesulfame potassium? That I do not know the answer to, and a quick google does not reveal the answer either.
    • Re:No shit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @08:01AM (#53961001)

      And frankly, who gives a shit.

      You sweat the same stuff as you get in pee. You're covered in this stuff already. You're probably get more of someone else's on you from shaking hands with someone than you do from jumping in the pool.

      And unless you have a bladder infection, pee is sterile.

      There's no reason for concern, and what's more, people don't want to know. There was a vogue for putting chemicals in the pool that turned purple when they mixed with pee. Guess what? No-one uses them any more, because thinking about swimming in someone else's pee is far more of a (mental) health hazard than actually swimming in someone else's (highly diluted) pee.

      • Re: No shit (Score:4, Informative)

        by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:53AM (#53961379)

        Yep, I have renal insufficiency, and I was curious if sweating would help lower blood urea nitrogen, uric acid, and serum phosphorus, and sure enough, I found an NIH white paper that found that sweat has higher amounts of them (and creatinine, and potassium) than blood.

        So, I deliberately spend relatively long periods in the hot tub to help excrete fluids and electrolytes. In other words, I pee in the hot tub just because of the fact that I'm sitting in it.

        And my lab results turn out better, not to mention I get less edema in my legs, thus I can tolerate drinking more water.

      • Yes I have to wonder if this acetamine stuff is also being sweated out....
    • Re:No shit (Score:5, Funny)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:43AM (#53961325) Homepage

      I like the bit about hotel Jacuzzis being much worse. Pee in Jacuzzis is obviously done deliberately.

      "Stop peeing in the pool, kid!"

      "But ... everybody does it!"

      "Yeah but not from the diving board..."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They don't have piss poor swimming pools in Canada.

  • As a percentage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:37PM (#53959575)

    That works out to around 0.009% urine content.

    I can live with that.

    Captcha: "manure"

    • Public pools are fucking disgusting. Think about swimming around in all the fecal matter and snot and pubic hairs and vagina juice and spit and other horrible things that humans secrete.
    • It's not 75 liters, total. It's 25 liters per week. It means that the custodian probably does not ever need to refill the pool. And due to evaporation 100 percent of the water eventually is just bleached pee.

    • That works out to around 0.009% urine content.

      I can live with that.

      Captcha: "manure"

      Thank you for calculating that.

      I've see the figures a bunch of time and for some reason kept reading it as 75K litres.

      Needless to say, I wasn't planning on ever swimming again.

  • Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:38PM (#53959579)

    First - this is a copy/paste from Soylent. I thought they were supposed to be trying to be like Slashdot, not the other way around? We're used to mainstream news beating Slashdot to the punch by days, but when our own RIPOFF site has news before we do, that Slashdot copies...WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK?!?

    Also...this test only works for people who are using one particular artificial sweetener. Since the discussion started around Olympic swimmers - and this test probably wouldn't work in Olympic pools since those swimmers are on rigorous diets...

    Welp, I guess we just shift it to try being more topical.

    • ...and this test probably wouldn't work in Olympic pools since those swimmers are on rigorous diets...

      You do know that an "Olympic pool" is referring to the size, not the fact that only Olympians can swim in them? For 99.99% of their life, an Olympic pool is used by regular pool pissing patrons.

      • ...and this test probably wouldn't work in Olympic pools since those swimmers are on rigorous diets...

        You do know that an "Olympic pool" is referring to the size, not the fact that only Olympians can swim in them? For 99.99% of their life, an Olympic pool is used by regular pool pissing patrons.

        Yes....I realize that. But like I said, the original story started around olympic swimmers admitting to peeing in the pool. Not non-olympic swimmers peeing in an olympic sized pool.

    • First - this is a copy/paste from Soylent.

      Are you aware how this site works and the fact that there are some people contributing stories to both of them?

    • First - this is a copy/paste from Soylent. I thought they were supposed to be trying to be like Slashdot, not the other way around? We're used to mainstream news beating Slashdot to the punch by days, but when our own RIPOFF site has news before we do, that Slashdot copies...WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK?!?

      This just shows how Slashdot is circling the drain. SoylentNews has been better than Slashdot in many ways for quite some time now, most especially with its software and how the user interface works.

      One giganti

  • by JcMorin ( 930466 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:38PM (#53959583)
    Sometimes. I would prefer to enjoy life and be a total ignorant. Yet slashdot remind me that reality is not always good to know. That said, once you learn it, you never forget it! Happy swimming!
    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @12:00AM (#53959711)

      At least it's outside your body. Think of what happens when you go to a public bathroom that smells bad: what you're breathing was previously inside someone. I mean, the actual molecules that are entering your nose used to be part of someone else digestive system. Maybe even more than one person.

      That's a lot worse than a bucket of piss diluted in a big pool filled with chlorine.

      • Sometimes. I would prefer to enjoy life and be a total ignorant. Yet slashdot remind me that reality is not always good to know. That said, once you learn it, you never forget it! Happy swimming!

        At least it's outside your body. Think of what happens when you go to a public bathroom that smells bad: what you're breathing was previously inside someone. I mean, the actual molecules that are entering your nose used to be part of someone else digestive system. Maybe even more than one person.

        That's a lot worse than a bucket of piss diluted in a big pool filled with chlorine.

        Seriously? In the case cited 75 liters of urine in a pool containing 830.000 liters of water we have an urine percentage of (75/830.000)*100 = 0.009036145% where 95% of that 0.009036145% urine is sterile water assuming they are talking about 75 liters of factory standard piss as it can be obtained from the manufacturer. The average human being accidentally ingests about 1kg of insect parts each year. That's 1 kg of critters, some of which crawled round on, and fed off of, faecal matter and rotting tissue!!!

      • I smoke a pack a day which kills my sense of smell enough that this isn't an issue.
    • It's nonsensical fear-mongering, nothing more. (That's something of a Slashdot specialty, these days.)

      75 liters of urine in an 830,000-liter pool is 90 parts per million. Even at the tripled concentration of the hotel jacuzzi, that's still only 271 parts per million. Choosing a random model (the J-335, which fits five people and has a typical fill capacity of 1,249 liters, that's a grand total of 1.4 cups of pee in the entire jacuzzi, and that's the worst sample they could find, mind you.

      It's extremely
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        It's extremely diluted, to the point where even if you drank the water it would almost certainly have no effect on you.

        True, but don't forget the other additions, like spit, snot, semen, blood, sebum, pus, fecal matter, dandruff, pubic hairs and dead skin. The biomass that gets caught by filters is not insignificant, and it has generally been in the pool for a while before it gets sucked into the filters.
        It's relatively safe with chlorination and good immune systems, but still something to remember before opening your mouth in a pool.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I like to go to the public bath, or onsen, in Japan. You wash thoroughly, then get into a bath with other people of the same gender, completely naked. Even nudists usually carry a towel or something to sit on because, you know, sweat and all that. In fact the baths are usually pretty hot and you can't help sweating a lot.

          They don't use chlorine or anything like that in the pools. Often it's natural spring water. Somehow it's not a health hazard, although etiquette says you shouldn't drink that water.

          • For the life of me, I simply cannot imagine the appeal of sitting around with a bunch of naked dudes, or sharing a bath with them (esp. when many of them are likely to be old, fat, etc.). The thought of it makes me ill.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:15AM (#53960143)

        Clearly you don't know anything about homeopathic medicine! Water has a memory, so if someone pees in the hot tub, even if you drain all but a teaspoon of the water and refill the tub it will still contain the essence of that person's urine.

    • "ignoramus"

    • I would prefer to enjoy life and be a total ignorant.

      How will this make you enjoy a public pool any less? You'll still come out smelling horribly with irritated eyes and skin dying for some moisturiser, and that has nothing to do with the level of urine in the pool. Hell anything that dilutes the chlorine is probably a plus.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:43PM (#53959605) Homepage
    What the fuck is a "medium-sized dustbin"? That's a truly bizarre comparison to make in order to describe a volume of liquid.
  • Urine, although not sterile as often thought, is pretty close to it. Pool chlorine takes care of the rest.

    To quote William Claude Dukenfield, "I don't drink water. Fish fuck in it."
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      To quote William Claude Dukenfield, "I don't drink water. Fish fuck in it."

      Technically, Claude is wrong. For the most part fish don't really fuck; what they do is more like synchronized masturbation with no physical contact. That may or may not be more disgusting, depending on your personal preferences.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      It depends on the skill and funding for a lot of "expensive" testing by a city or state government.
      Or some contractor showing up to do a test and add more chlorine (or other method) been used in time and on time.
      Wait for the related heath issues and risk some member of the local press do their own testing..
    • Actually what is the chemistry involved? Does the chlorine bond with the ammonium in urine to form a salt or something?

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Actually what is the chemistry involved? Does the chlorine bond with the ammonium in urine to form a salt or something?

        No, the purpose of the chlorine compound added to pools is to kill bacteria and fungus.

        It's bad to urinate in chlorinated pools, because the chlorine reacts with the high carbamide content in urine to form cyanogen chloride, which is an extremely poisonous biological warfare blood gas, and nitrogen trichloride, which can cause neurological disorders.

        • Very illuminating!

          What about the reaction between urine and the newer sterilization agents that are being used - I think they are now oxygen-based? Lately most pools and spas I've been seem to have shifted away from chlorine.

  • But I think I can reach 100 liters in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

  • by Tehrasha ( 624164 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:48PM (#53959641) Homepage
    ...The human tongue cannot taste salt until the PPM is around 5000.
  • this is a WiFi contract
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:58PM (#53959701)

    ..it's 5 hundredths of a percent of the water volume. And since urine is 95% water, you're talking about less than 4 liters out of nearly a million liters of water. It wouldn't surprise me if the mass of dead skin or even hair was greater than non-aqueous urine components.

    And since our swimsuits aren't hermetically sealed against our bodies, I'd wager there's some measurable amount of fecal matter in the pool too. Maybe some vaginal discharge and/or menstrual fluid, too. And you can't discount the amount of mucus and other sinus discharges along with some saliva from the people who like all of the above so much they get water in their mouths.

    But in spite of all this (assuming the filtration and chlorination systems are working), the water in the pool is still way cleaner than most other bodies of water people swim in.

    I've seen pictures of the Ganges that make me retch and people *bathe* in that water.

    • ..it's 5 hundredths of a percent of the water volume. And since urine is 95% water, you're talking about less than 4 liters out of nearly a million liters of water. It wouldn't surprise me if the mass of dead skin or even hair was greater than non-aqueous urine components.

      sounds like a cool name for a band

    • Talking of hair, I took my kids for a swimming lesson last week. The pool has a strict policy that you have to wear those stupid hats.

      Anyway there's this guy there, tribal tattooed hipster twat, with a beard you could lose a badger in. And then he gets out and takes the hat off and he's as bald as two fucking coots.

      Tell me, what's the point of this rule, other than "because"?

  • Asparagus (Score:2, Redundant)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

    I never really liked swimming in public pools. But I've swum in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Baltic Seas and the Gulf of Mexico, and fish fuck in all those places, so really, it's a wash.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      Hey, and the city of Victoria, BC (among others) still dumps its sewage straight into it too, poop and all.

      • OTOH, the places with the most pollution have the least fish.

        I personally am not squeamish about fish. I've eaten fish eggs, and I knew what they were when I ate them!

        Competing with fish fucking: dinosaur pee!

  • They must cycle the water in the pool regularly or not have many kids in it, would have expected it to several times that volume
  • Where's Bear Grylls when you need him?

  • What about the concentration of ACE in sweat. Urine isn't the only liquid we 'sapiens ooze ...
  • So if I took perfectly clean water and spilled an ounce of Coke Zero into it, how much urine wold that be measured as?

    • So if I took perfectly clean water and spilled an ounce of Coke Zero into it, how much urine wold that be measured as?

      Slightly less than if you opened a snickers bar, slipped it into the pool, then when the screaming and pointing erupted scream "I'll save you all" and take a big bite out of it.

      • Geez, you can't even get the joke right. It's an "Oh Henry!" bar, look at some images and you'll understand.
  • What about the sea/ocean? Not near the sewers though.

  • some how the mythbusters did not test any thing with this.

  • This is Canada. Are they sure it's pisswater, or is it just that somebody spilled Canadian Beer?

  • Why do people with hots tubs always have to try and one up everyone else. It's not some kind of pissing contest!

  • Whats the variation of this? I can't imagine sweetener consumption is so uniform that you can get to those 75l without a huge interval of uncertainity.

    • With a large enough sample size, it is expected to average out.

      75L of urine is a single instance of voiding a full bladder for each of 215 people... people 'randomly selected' from the population by their willingness to urinate in a public pool.

      Sure, you have no idea what the diet of each of those people is, but you can make a pretty good estimate of the average diet.

      Having said that, I'd want to do a quick count of who uses the pool on a weekly basis. If you have a large senior fitness class or get hit by

  • That's not possible: they put a chemical that would react with your pee and give a bright color.

  • Newer scientific studies [wikipedia.org] show pool water has medicinal properties.
  • by stereoroid ( 234317 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @08:15AM (#53961061) Homepage Journal

    I can see this research scoring a nomination for an Ig Nobel Prize [improbable.com] in Chemistry this year. For comparison, last year's prize went to Volkswagen AG for their innovative vehicle pollution control measures.

  • Which is a real problem in those little seashell pools you get that hold about 80L...
  • You really, really, REALLY have to be into homeopathy if you think at that dilution it can have any meaningful effect on you.

  • Sorry.

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