pool peeing survey

Peeing in the Public Pool: One in Five People Do It

A new survey reveals that pool-peeing is uncomfortably common…but you can take steps to protect yourself.

By Megan O’Neill

Peeing in the Public Pool: One in Five People Do It

Did the water just get warmer around here?

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS PA—Public pools across the country will be opening for the summer season this Memorial Day weekend, but a recent survey could make you think twice about jumping in. According to the poll, almost half of swimmers admit to one or more behaviors that contribute to an unsanitary pool. And you’ve probably suspected as much, since the poll also shows 84 percent of us believe our fellow swimmers participate in unhygienic pool behavior.

THE DETAILS: The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted in late April and early May of this year by the Water Quality and Health Council, a body of scientific and other experts who advise the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association. One in five respondents (17 percent) admitted to urinating in the pool, while almost eight in ten (78 percent) are convinced that their fellow swimmers are guilty of this act. Plus, about a third (35 percent) jump in without showering first, and three-quarters (73 percent) think other swimmers do the same. Even though most people seem wary of the hygienic standards of the swimmers around them, only 36 percent say that pool water cleanliness is on their mind when they take the plunge.

WHAT IT MEANS: Besides being just plain gross, filthy pool practices can lead to unsafe swimming conditions. Urine—as well as sweat and even sunscreen—contain nitrogen, which eats up a pool’s free chlorine. Free chlorine is what kills waterborne germs that could make you sick if ingested. So if too many people are peeing in the pool or diving in while sweaty, that could mean less chlorine’s available to wipe out nasty critters.

Even when chlorine levels are at proper levels, some illness-causing organisms can survive. For example, about two-thirds of all recreational water illnesses (or RWIs) are caused by Cryptosporidium, a chlorine-resistant microorganism that causes diarrhea. “Crypto can survive for as many as 10 days, even in a well-maintained pool,” says Michele Hlavas, Epidemiologist in the Division of Parasitic Diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” Which is why swimmers need to take on some of the responsibility for maintaining the safety of their pools. “Pool operators can’t do it all by themselves, as it’s the swimmers who bring the parasites into the water,” says Hlavas. “Swimmers have to get invested in keeping their pool clean and keeping themselves healthy.”

Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself, and other swimmers, from pool-related illness:

• Don’t swim if you have diarrhea. It sounds like common sense, but it bears repeating. And don’t send your kids to the pool if they’ve been having stomach problems.

• Get to know your pool operator. Showing you care about pool cleanliness can ensure that certain standards are met. Ask pool management about the training employees receive to operate and keep the pool clean, and how often they check the chlorine and pH levels of the water (both should be checked at least twice per day, more often on crowded days). You can also ask about how they fared on the most recent inspection, and how they’re correcting any problems that were uncovered.

• Test the water yourself. Inspectors aren’t on site every day, so what’s happening when they aren’t around? To find out, the CDC recommends purchasing easy-to-use testing strips at a local hardware or pool supply store, and measuring the pH and chlorine levels before swimming. The pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8, and there should be 1 to 3 parts per million of free chlorine in the water, according to CDC standards.

• Don’t swallow pool water. Don’t even swish it around in your mouth! You don’t have to swallow large amounts of contaminated water to get sick.

Protect yourself from pool related illness (cont’d):

• Shower before swimming. Shower with soap and water before entering the pool so you don’t bring anything unhealthy in to the water. Don’t think you need to? Consider this fun fact: The average person has about .14 grams of feces on their bottoms! Parents should also wash their children before swimming.

• Check diapers often. And make sure older children take regular bathroom breaks when swimming. It’s also important to change diapers in the bathroom, or other designated changing areas, and never on the pool deck or anywhere near the water.

• Know the signs of a clean pool. These include clear water, smooth pool sides (no sticky or slippery tiles), and no strong odors. A well-maintained pool should have little smell of chlorine, as a strong chemical smell can actually indicate a maintenance problem. You should also be able to hear the sounds of properly functioning pool equipment, such as pumps and filtration systems.


Published on: May 21, 2009

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As I was working as a Scuba

As I was working as a Scuba Instructor in many hotels pools I know very well from several ear infections that people are really disgusting!

I hope there are not all four

I hope there are not all four peeing in the pool.. :-) Medaille

So if too many people are

So if too many people are peeing in the pool or diving in while sweaty, that could mean less chlorine’s available to wipe out nasty critters. Günstige Medaillen kaufen

Your Pee Will Turn Blue

This makes me remember summer camp when I was little where there was a sign on top of the outdoor dining chairs that read "Don't pee in the pool or your pee will turn blue". I have yet to figure out if this was real or just a scare... but I'm glad to know they were taking precautions! They should implement these kinds of signs so adults don't pee in public pools.


Your pool looks really clean and has good length to enjoy swimming. I have bookmarked your site to look at the new stuff you post in the future.
swimming pool heaters


I can't believe the number of people they found doing this during the survey. I'm currently building a pool. While I trust my friends, I really don't trust their kids not to pee in my pool. Is there extra chemicals that I can put in the pool to keep it clean? If so what swimming pool companies phoenix would carry them?

The swimming pool is very nice.

This pool is very nice. I is ideal for swimming and passing some moment with your mates. As swimming is a great exercise so anyone should keep swimming to keep their body fit. Otherwise you have to be doomed. wastewater treatment

Bad Habit

Pool peeing is a bad conduct in a pool especially if the pool is open to the public. I always do swimming for my swimming workouts and if I had a chance to experience an act like this, I will not tolerate it. Very unethical.


When I was a kid, I try to get a help from my older brother on How to Play Basketball in Your Swimming Pool until I felt like peeing. My brother told me that I must have discipline when I am in pool and never pee on the pool.

pool baza firm

The chemical causes skin problems, hair problems, and breathing problems, for starters. There is an alternate method of regular pool hygiene, discussed on the Dr. Weill website. The need for keeping pool guests as clean as possible is well-taken.

I couldn't stay in a pool if I would see someone doing something so disgusting. We went once in baza firm and water there wasn't so blue so we decided to turn back to the instant coin gauge . that was good decision. Thank you Lord!

This is a bit disturbing but...

I saw this number recently and I was a little shocked by it. Apparently it's not THAT big of a deal as long as the pool is well kept and not overrun with people urinating...but it's still gross.

I caught this link over on the Swimtown Pools site that provides some interesting (and humorous) comparisons to this statistic -


Until my friend sent me the link to this article, I never really saw or understood the logic behind showering before getting into a pool. It makes sense, to a certain extent, but I still question the validity behind this claim. As someone has already stated, what are the odds of the bottom-feces really being washed away if said bottom is covered by a bathing suit and not really washed? Secondly, of the people who DO take showers before getting into the pool, how many of them make an honest effort to wash away their germs by lathering up and scrubbing with hot, soapy water? I'm leaning towards "not very many"...

This is alarming...

There are two pool hazards and we have to chose the lesser one if we want to use the pool. One of them is chlorine and the other is represented by germs and even pee. The lesser of these two I'd say is chlorine. I use a pool filter b for my pool and it constantly filters the water in my pool, taking out all the substances that are not pure water. This keeps the water fresh and the chlorine I add keeps it germs free.

Chlorine in Pools

I too have had a pool my entire life and I have not once ever thought about peeing in it. That's extremely disgusting! I hope every public pool stocks up on their chlorine tablets because those statistics are eye popping.

Above survey is really very

Above survey is really very interesting but problem is that how we can avoid such pools.Just chlorinaed pools are not enough in this regard.I think there should be proper electronic filters which continusoly clean water.Indoor Pool are more safer as compared to public pools.

pool filter sand

Pool sanitation is a must however, the use of chlorine has been an issue ever since, well, people began using it. There are alternatives like bromine and pool salt but there effectiveness are still questionable. I learned that installing filtration system such as pool filter sand can alleviate the issue of pool cleanliness and safety.

Welcome to our ool

Notice there's no P in it, please keep it that way...

Consider Another Fact

While I would agree that just because someone admits to having urinated in a pool on once occasion, it does not warrant evidence that they repeat the process each time they visit the pool. However, you left out one very important detail, the survey measures the amount of people who have "admitted to peeing in the pool" (key word, 'admitted'). Considering that it is a relatively embarassing thing to do, how many people do you actually think admitted to doing it... and how many lied? So I think in the end the two even themselves out and the survey is probably relatively accurate to 1 in 5 people peeing in the pool every time they step in. I wouldn't be surprised if it was worse than that.

Saltwater versus Chlorinated

I hope they never go to salt water pools. I hate the feel, and unfortunatly the taste of swimming in the ocean. Like it or not we all get water, chlorinated or ocean, in our mouths when swimming.

Grow Up

Every ocean, sea, lake, stream and river is constantly being urniated and defecated in constantly. So are all "baby" pools. Chlorine and other nasty manmade chemicals are the real danger and real cause for health concern. Chlorine - another very well known, well documented carcinagen - is a byproduct of producing aluminum. Alcoa (aluminum maker) is the company that pushed (with funding) first for studies and then laws requiring all U.S. fresh drinking water supplies to be doused with chlorine.

All public pools should (and eventually will) switch BACK to using salt water to keep them hygenically more safe. There is no such thing as a perfectly safe swimming invironment - however, swimming is still the most highly recommended form of - very near perfect - excercise (low impact, cardio-vascular, aerobic and/or anaerobic - at high speed, stretching, rhythmic, relaxing - all in one!) . All animals swim...(even for enjoyment!)

Sticking to swimming in the ocean has similar and other risks as well! (Staff bacteria have been found in sea water in places like Florida!) Cryptosporidia can come from tap water.

Examine ALL the magnitudes of risk and you are better off swimming as much as possible everywhere and anywhere and - of course - as safely as you can!

Stop listening to mass media - they want you to get sick and be on man made drugs!


I grew up in a house with a pool and was swimming from the age of 4 and can say that I never ever once peed in a pool in my life.

Peeing in a pool

I just think it's plain gross and while you're at it, go to the bathroom before you go to the pool!

Pool Peeing

It seems almost automatic that once you step foot in water, you have to pee. With all the other "fears" we're bombarded with, pool peeing is not high up there on my list.

I personally don't like it, but have done it before. And should we also be worried about other body fluids like saliva, blood, fecal fluids from diarreaha, boils, cuts and snot, should I mention sperm - yes sperm -- Ahhh the list goes on!

Its a good thing that chlorine and other pool chemicals are enough to kill a person straight out. This assures me that pool peeing should be my last worry.

I will still swim and so will my kids. With the grade of God, we will be fine.

BTW, its the swine flu's turn to be the boogey man, leave the pools alone. (SMILE)


I agree that pools are disturbing, and sociologically very strange. What other animals, given the tools and brains, would spend so much time, effort and money into maintaining huge pools of water which must be so meticulously cared for, guarded and are generally unsanitary.
And cserpent, as a past guard, swim coach and swimmer, you would be amazed at who (beside children) I have seen pee in the pool. Many of the older generations seem to think it is okay thanks to the chlorine. Viewing from the stand allows some interesting perspectives on the issue. Especially seeing those people who are dehydrated and have dark urine. UGH! From my point of view, I would not want to swim near the time of swim lessons, but don't forget about AQUASIZE. *shutters*

Uh, where is this survey being taken?

This article is completely stupid! The question is stated "Do you admit to having urinated in a pool..?" That does NOT mean that every time 1 in 5 people hop in a pool they're taking a piss! The question is asked as an "Have you EVER peed in a pool?" There is a HUGE difference between the two questions!!!
Baby pools though, I'm sure that's a 100%. Which then leads to a correction in the 1 in 5 ratio: We have all peed in a pool!

Unclean pools

I am grateful for reading this article regarding unsanitary conditions in public pools. What concerns me is that most people merely wring out their swimsuits and let them dry. They don't wash them, bringing bacteria back to the pools time and again.


That disgusting .18 grams of faeces that most people seem to have on their bottoms according to the article ... exactly how is that going to be washed off by showering before swimming? Most showers are public and swimming costumes, trunks are worn. It would require a brave person to wash their anus with soap efficiently under those circumstances...

chlorinated pools

My understanding is that chlorine for pool hygiene is in itself unhealthy. The chemical causes skin problems, hair problems, and breathing problems, for starters. There is an alternate method of regular pool hygiene, discussed on the Dr. Weill website. The need for keeping pool guests as clean as possible is well-taken. It's hard to imagine anyone other than little kids urinating in the pool, though. God!

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