A common fear is now scientifically confirmed.
Yes, there is pee in swimming pools and Canadian scientists found a "sweet" way of measuring roughly how much.
A study published in the Environmental Science and Technology Letters reports that an artificial sweetener called acesulfame-K (ACE), found in many consumer products, helps calculate the amount of pee in a pool.
The sweetener doesn't break down easily and is designed to be excreted through urine. It's also stable through varying pH levels and high temperatures, so it can be detected in hot tubs and pools.
Because of its persistent nature, scientists found the sweetener could be used as an indicator or pee in swimming pools.
It may be embarrassing, but about one in five adults have admitted to peeing in a swimming pool, according to the study.
Researchers tested two Canadian pools for the sweetener over a three week period. The smaller pool, which held 110,000 gallons, about the size of an average residential pool, contained nearly eight gallons of pee. The larger pool held 220,000 gallons, the size of a commercial pool and contained 20 gallons of urine.
While the study found less than one percent urine in the pool, it still presents health concerns. Urine is sterile, but it contains many compounds, such as urea, ammonia and creatinine, which can react with disinfectants in pools such as chlorine, according to the study.
The exposure to these volatile chemical reactions in swimming pools can lead to eye and respiratory irritation or even occupational asthma for professional swimmers or pool workers who spend long hours near pools.
The best way to avoid contaminating a swimming pool is simple, don't pee in it and educate others to not do it either. It's also a good idea to get in the habit of rinsing off before entering public pools.