Watch CBS News

Peeing In Pools Can Create Dangerous Neurotoxin Cocktail

DAVIS (CBS13) — The next time you jump in a pool, think twice before you skip a trip to the bathroom. The chemical stew could harm more than just your reputation.

Scientists say peeing in pools is more than just socially frowned upon, it can be hazardous to your health.

It's something that Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps admit to doing, and it made for a funny scene in the movie "Grown Ups."

We had UC Davis chemistry professor Matthew Augustine examine a study from Purdue and China Agricultural universities.

"I had not heard about it before, but it completely makes sense," he said.

Researchers found that when uric acid—a compound in our urine—combines with chlorine, the result is two potentially dangerous chemical byproducts.

"Not only do you make a nerve toxin, you make another toxin that's known to be tear gas," he said.

You heard him right: You pee in a pool, and you essentially turn it into a weapon of mass destruction.

"It's been noticed that lifeguards, avid swimmers have had sickness, nausea and essentially all of the symptoms you would expect to get from a nerve agent," he said.

Howard Chew and the swimmers at Davis Swim And Fitness say they haven't experienced any of those symptoms.

But Augustine says there's a surefire way to significantly cut the risk.

"Don't pee in the pool," he said.

Those chemicals can also potentially affect the lungs, heart, central nervous system and other organs.

It's worth noting that one in five American adults admit to peeing in a public pool.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.