Been swimming in a Beijing pool lately? There’s a good chance you’ve been diving into water rife with urine.
Not that we think there is any such thing as an acceptable level of pee to submerge your body into, but according to national standards, pools should contain no more than 3.5 milligrams per liter of urea, a chemical compound found in urine.
During an inspection of six swimming pools in Beijing, the city health authority measured amounts beyond these standards in three of them. Far beyond. One of the lesser maintained pools contained 20mg/l urea, according to South China Morning post.
Excessive levels of urea in water are not harmful to humans, just fucking gross, health authorities say (more or less).
Also, it’s not the chlorine, but the pee in water that makes peoples’ eyes sting.
“When we go swimming and we complain that our eyes are red, it’s because swimmers have peed in the water,” Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s healthy swimming program, said in a Today report. “The nitrogen in the urine combines with the chlorine and it forms what’s known as chloramine and it’s actually chloramine that causes the red eyes. It’s not the chlorine itself.”
She added that the more the pool smells of chlorine, the more pee there is in it.
Authorities measured excessive amounts of urea in 20 percent Shanghai’s pools a few years ago, although no reports regarding local pee water levels have seemed to surface this summer.
So enjoy your swimming! (But not at the Shanghai Sanjiagang Haibin Water Park in Pudong, because that just closed for operating without a license.)