Up to 20 Gallons of Urine In a Swimming Pool?

S pring is already arriving later this month in the northern hemisphere, which means that summer will be arriving before you know it — or perhaps you are enjoying the final days of summer in the southern hemisphere…

…and with the warmer weather typically associated with summer usually comes the possibly of cooling off in the clean water of a swimming pool — such as one found at a hotel or resort property — or so you might think.

Up to 20 Gallons of Urine In a Swimming Pool?

Mandalay Bay Pool

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

“The scientists calculated that one 220,000-gallon, commercial-size swimming pool contained almost 20 gallons of urine. In a residential pool (20-by-40-foot, five-feet deep), that would translate to about two gallons of pee”, according to this article written by Erika Engelhaupt for National Public Radio, which is more familiarly known as NPR. “It’s only about one-hundredth of a percent, but any urine in a swimming pool can be a health concern for some people, not to mention that smell that never quite goes away.”

Many lodging options — especially resort properties — have commercial-sized swimming pools.

Is Urine Really Something About Which to Be Concerned?

There are people who actually wash their hands before using the toilet rather than after, arguing that urine is actually sterile.

“Urine is not sterile, even before it comes out of you and gets contaminated by your skin. Bacteria are present at low levels in the urine of healthy people not suffering from a urinary tract infection,” according to this article written by Erika Engelhaupt — yes, the same person who wrote the aforementioned article — for Science News. “Learning that urine is not sterile also changes the way we think about infection. It had generally been assumed that if there are bacteria in your urinary tract, you have an infection and that’s a bad thing. But if there is a normal community of bacteria, we may need to think about the bladder more in the way we have recently learned to think of the gut microbiome, in terms of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ mixes of bacteria.”

Urea is one of the components of sweat. “The main reason people perspire is so evaporation of water can cool the body”, according to this article written by Anne Marie Helmenstine at About.com. “Therefore, it makes sense that the main component of perspiration is water. However, perspiration also plays a role in excretion of toxins and waste products. Sweat is chemically similar to the plasma, but certain components are selectively retained or excreted.”

Facilities with exercise equipment may also be available near a swimming pool at hotel and resort properties. In addition to perspiring in the swimming pool itself, how many people use the swimming pool to wash off that sweat instead of taking a shower first?


Artificial pools are arguably a significantly cleaner option than the natural alternatives. Taking a swim in an ocean, gulf, river, lake, bay or some other natural source of water contains a plethora of potentially dangerous microorganisms from the defecation and urination of aquatic animals — as well as from the saliva of land animals who drink from that water — and yet somehow we survive. That is because the human body is usually good at fighting off foreign entities which could potentially cause harm…

…but if you have a physical condition which has the potential to lead to infection, postponing that swim might not be a bad idea.

Although I do not like the idea about swimming in urine, facts do need to be taken into perspective and not sweat the small stuff.

Then again, I suppose if I had a choice, I would rather that people urinate or perspire in a swimming pool at a hotel or resort property than defecate in it

All photographs ©2014 and ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Up to 20 Gallons of Urine In a Swimming Pool?”

  1. Now there’s a pleasant thought heading into swimsuit season. It’s kind of like eating a hot dog. You know there are things you don’t want to know about it, and you’re so much happier when nobody tells you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.