An answer to the perennial
question: Is it safe to pee
in the pool?
Advocates who preach “no peeing in the pool” now
have scientific evidence to back up their concern.
Researchers are reporting that when mixed, urine
and chlorine can form substances that can cause
potential health problems. Their study appears in
ACS’s journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Jing Li and colleagues note that adding chlorine to pool water is
the most common way to kill disease-causing microbes and prevent
swimmers from getting sick. But as people swim, splash, play — and
pee — in the pool, chlorine mixes with sweat and urine and makes
other substances. Two of these compounds, trichloramine (NCl3)
and cyanogen chloride (CNCl), are ubiquitous in swimming pools.
The first one is associated with lung problems, and the second one
can also affect the lungs, as well as the heart and central nervous
system. But scientists have not yet identified all of the specific ingredients in sweat and urine that could cause these potentially harmful
compounds to form. So Li’s team looked at how chlorine interacts
with uric acid, a component of sweat and urine.
They mixed uric acid and chlorine, and within an hour, both NCl3
and CNCl formed. Though some uric acid comes from sweat, the
scientists calculated that more than 90% of the compound in pools
comes from urine. They conclude that swimmers can improve pool
conditions by simply urinating where they’re supposed to — in the
Read more about the research: “Volatile Disinfection Byproducts Resulting from Chlorination
of Uric Acid: Implications for
Swimming Pools,” Environ.
Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 ( 6),
As the Fukushima crisis contin-
ues to remind the world of the
potential dangers of nuclear dis-
posal and unforeseen accidents,
scientists are reporting progress
toward a new way to detect the
radioactive materials uranium and
plutonium in waste water. Their
report on the design of a highly sen-
sitive nanosensor appears in ACS’s The
Journal of Physical Chemistry.
Jorge M. Seminario and Narendra Kumar note that it is highly
ly that radioactive uranium and plutonium have leaked into the
and groundwater near nuclear facilities. This contamination poses
erious threat to the environment and human health. Although
ecting these materials even at low levels is important for determin-
whether a leak is occurring, traditional methods of doing so are
effective. But recently, scientists have discovered that radioactive
terials in water can clump onto flakes of graphene oxide (GO). On
the basis of theoretical models and calculations, researchers pre-
dicted that GO could sense and identify extremely low lev-
els — single molecules — of various substances.
Seminario’s team set out to see how best to
adapt this for uranium and plutonium sensing.
Using the latest advances in supercomput-
ing, they modeled several different variations of
GO to figure out which one would be the most sensi-
tive and selective in detecting uranium and plutonium in
nuclear waste water. They concluded that a carbonyl functional
group needed to be added to the graphene to act as an effective
Read more about the research: “Design of Nanosensors for Fissile
terials in Nuclear Waste Water,” J. Phys. Chem. C, 2013, 117 (45),