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This Is What Swallowing Swimming Pool Pee Does To Your Body

Huffington Post UK logo Huffington Post UK 2017-03-20 Sophie Gallagher

Now that we all know anyone who says they haven’t had a wee in a public swimming pool is a great big liar – Michael Phelps isn’t generating 75 litres on his own guys - we can move on.

Or so we thought.

Just as we thought it was safe to go back in the water, scientists have shed some more light on #poolgate, explaining exactly what happens to your body when you swallow that water.

© Stanislaw Pytel via Getty Images

A video from Risk Bites explained that in an accidental gulp swimmers are likely to ingest about 0.1 litres of liquid, and included in that cocktail of water and wastewater would be about 20 nanolitres of urine.

On the surface, there isn’t much in wee that is actually harmful to the human body so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

But don’t go guzzling down that water because there’s more to it than that.

Aside from leaving a dodgy taste on your tongue, the chlorine in the pool (that is meant to be protecting us from other people’s dirty habits), actually binds with the uric acid in wee to produce a toxic substance, cyanogen chloride. 

In fact it is so toxic that all production of the chemical in laboratories has to be reported to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Wow.

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On exposure to cyanogen chloride, symptoms can vary from minor skin and eye irritation to nausea, vomiting and in high enough concentrations, even death.

But let’s not go swearing off swimming pools forever, as adults are actually able to be exposed to three and a half milligrams of the stuff per day before it is considered a problem.

And in that one suspect mouthful you’d actually be drinking less than two and a half picograms of the stuff – one thousand million times smaller than the safe limit.

In fact you’d need three million people in the pool before it even starts to become a problem.

Anyone fancy a swim? 


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