March 02, 2017

How Much Urine in Swimming Pools?

Image courtesy of Exsodus at
In 2013, I wrote a blog article about how much fecal matter (i.e., poop) is typically found in swimming pools (up to 2.2 pounds in a typical pool if 100 different people enter the pool). We now have an estimate of how much urine (i.e., pee) is found in a typical pool.

According to Canadian researchers, a 220,000 gallon pool, which is about one-third of an Olympic-sized pool, had 75 liters of urine while another smaller pool (110,000 gallon) had 30 liters. This determination was made by taking samples from 31 different pools and hot tubs in 2 different cities over a 3 week period. The urine marker they looked for was acesulfame-K which is an artificial sweetener that is completely excreted from the body with urination.

That said, urine is "sterile" and should not trigger any infections whereas fecal matter is the responsible infectious vector which explains why swimmers tend to get ear infections (otitis externa or "swimmer's ear").

However, given how much poo and pee is found in swimming pools, this info just reiterates how "dirty" the water is with human excrement and appropriate awareness and vigilance should be maintained by swimmers.

Sweetened Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.7b00043. Publication Date (Web): March 1, 2017

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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