Researchers in Canada may have finally solved a question that pool-goers have been asking for years: How much pee is really in the pool?
The answer? More than one would think.
Graduate students at the University of Alberta have developed a new test to detect the levels of urine in swimming pools. The test measures levels of acesulfame potassium (ACE), an artificial sweetener that is commonly found in processed food. The chemical passes through the body unaltered, and be measured even after leaving the body.
When researchers measured the levels ACE in two public swimming pools in Canada over a three-week period, they found that swimmers had deposited an estimated 75 liters into the water.
Seventy-five liters of urine may seem like a lot, but it was barely noticeable in a pool with more than 800,000 liters of water.
Researchers also reported that ACE was present in 100 percent of samples taken from 31 pools split between two cities in Canada.
But while the scientists could confirm there was urine present in the water, they could not confirm how many swimmers were guilty of “going.”
While it may seem like common sense, researchers have warned against peeing in the pool in the past. The chemicals in urine can react with chemicals in pool water to create harmful reactions that cause stinging eyes and respiratory problems.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.