Get ready to slip and slide into summer – but be careful because you might land in a pool full of urine that could make you sick!

“But there are a number of chemicals in urine that will react with chlorine and when they react, they generate compounds that can be dangerous or at least irritating to humans.”

Ernest Bratchley, a Purdue University environmental engineer, has studied the impacts of peeing in the pool. There are two compounds that are especially harmful: cyanogen chloride and trichloramine.

“Trichloramine also is generated in every pool that has people and chlorine in it, and it’s more of an irritant. It will cause irritation of your throat, your eyes and it also causes corrosion of things like stainless steel at pools.”

The problem is pools don’t have the technology to detect how much of those dangerous compounds are present. But you can sniff them out.

“One way to gauge that is really kind-of the smell, so the kind-of chlorine smell that goes with a pool is largely associated with trichloramine or nitrogen trichloride, that is the kind-of characteristic chlorine odor that goes with pools. The stronger that odor is, the higher the concentration is likely to be.”

Professor Bratchley says peeing in the pool shouldn’t be something people think is normal and accepted. He thinks we can change how our culture views the act by talking about the chemistry associated with it.

“Taking a shower before you get in the pool and not peeing in the pool are two pretty simple things to do, and they’re just simply respectful of the people you’re around.”