The Formation of Disinfection Chemicals
Pools are treated with chlorine to ensure cleanliness and prevent the growth of microorganisms. However, the interaction between urine and pool chlorine leads to the formation of volatile disinfection chemicals. Chlorine cyanide (CNCI) and trichloramine (NCI3) are examples of these chemicals. Previous studies have shown that when urine and sweat come into contact with pool chlorine, airborne contaminants are produced.
Using a technique called “membrane-introduction mass spectrometry,” researchers examined samples of pool water and studied the reaction between uric acid and chlorine. They identified and measured the volatile disinfection chemicals produced.
The Dangers of CNCI and NCI3
The study's findings indicated that the interaction between uric acid and chlorine results in the formation of CNCI and NCI3. CNCI is a toxic chemical that can have irritating and suffocating effects. Inhalation of this chemical can be harmful to the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and central nervous systems, and it can even be fatal.
NCI3 is a compound that has been associated with acute lung damage due to exposure to chlorine-based disinfectants.
Considering that over 90% of uric acid in pools comes from human urine, it is concerning that these toxic compounds can be formed.
The Importance of Better Pool Hygiene
The study's results highlight the need for improved hygiene habits among swimmers to ensure the safety of pool water and air.
There is a common misconception among swimmers that peeing in pools is an acceptable practice, despite signs and posters in many pools promoting proper hygiene. This misconception has contributed to an increase in waterborne illness outbreaks in recreational water over the past two decades.
The most frequently reported waterborne illness is diarrhea, caused by bacteria like E. Coli and Cryptosporidium. To protect ourselves and others from pool-related illnesses, it is important to take certain measures:
- Avoid swimming if experiencing diarrhea.
- Shower with soap before swimming and take a rinse shower before reentering the water.
- Take restroom breaks every 60 minutes.
- Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers.
It is crucial to take these measures to protect our health and the health of others when using pools. By eliminating the practice of peeing in pools and practicing good hygiene, we can create a healthier and safer environment for all swimmers.