arrow17 Comments
  1. Jyllian Kemsley
    Jul 30 - 2:39 pm

    I was with my kids at a large lake last week. They opened their eyes a bit wide at me when I told them to pee in the lake, but otherwise they seemed to relish the opportunity.

    As for peeing in pools, did you see this last summer?
    Nearly 100 percent of elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool. Regularly. Some deny it, some proudly embrace it, but everyone does.

  2. Lauren Wolf
    Jul 30 - 2:47 pm

    Hey Jyllian, I did. In fact, that’s where I found Stuart Jones. He was quoted as saying it’s okay to pee in pools. He made a similar argument that you’d have to pee A LOT in an Olympic-sized pool to counteract the chlorine and cause problems. It was addressing something Michael Phelps had said.
    I’m not sure I’m willing to pee in a pool because typically, a bathroom isn’t that far away. But I see his point ;)

  3. Lisa Jarvis
    Jul 30 - 3:53 pm

    I sincerely hope your urea concentration calculation finds its way onto a gen chem test some day.

  4. Jeff Huber
    Jul 30 - 5:01 pm

    I once went to a swimming pool bar, where patrons stood in a pool while they drank their libations. While I was there, I was alarmed at how few got out of the pool to go to the bathroom. Now I know better! Next time I’ll make sure to visit a bar in the ocean instead.

  5. [...] & Engineering News and self-described ocean-urinator, recently took it upon herself to find out the scientific truth about what really happens when humans pee in the [...]

  6. freeside
    Aug 01 - 11:11 am

    don’t pee on coral reefs please.
    coral is a combo between a animal and plant (algae).
    if you pee on (near) them, the plant will leave the animal.
    normally coral are found in nutrient !starved! areas.
    they “symbiose” because of this and make nice pretty corals.
    so don’t fertilize there!

  7. Lauren Wolf
    Aug 01 - 1:54 pm

    Thanks for contributing this warning, @freeside. As I mentioned about peeing in potentially fragile ecosystems above, please don’t pee on coral reefs, people. Same principle.

  8. Eleni
    Aug 01 - 5:54 pm

    Did you consult any ocean scientists for this article? They might be more familiar with things like residence time and dispersal rates, as well as background conditions and sensitivity to change in various environments, than a clinical biochemist.

    Like @freeside, I’ve also heard it’s not a good idea to pee around coral reefs. Especially if the reef forms a lagoon or pockets of water that are protected from waves and are flushed less frequently than exposed shorelines. And especially if it’s a popular tourist spot with lots of people.

  9. Lauren Wolf
    Aug 09 - 10:58 am

    @Eleni I did try to contact some ocean scientists without much success. I’m guessing the “urinate in the ocean” subject line on my email scared them away. But to truly do this justice, I agree that a model of mixing/disperal based on ocean currents/waves/etc. would be needed. I look forward to seeing someone geeky enough and with enough time on their hands do a simulation in the future.

  10. DAD
    Aug 17 - 11:03 pm

    UM, don’t fish, whales, turtles, and all manners of other sea creatures pee and do “other stuff” in the ocean? So, why not!!!

  11. […] For the #chemsummer blog carnival, Lauren Wolf of C&EN asked the timeless question: To pee, or not to pee? In what will surely become a classic of science communications, Wolf covered a simple and […]

  12. John Kuhns
    Dec 19 - 3:38 pm

    Just don’t pee in the Orinoco River, or, in fact, in any of the rivers in South America!

  13. Bruce
    Dec 20 - 12:27 pm

    Last year I went on a hike in the Grand Canyon with the Sierra Club. We were instructed to carefully avoid cryptobiotic soil and other sensitive environmental stuff. Not to pee near the creeks. When we arrived at the Colorado River, we were told to pee only in the river! By the Sierra Club!

  14. ananomous
    Apr 14 - 4:03 pm

    Is it ok to pee in a lake? How about a river? If so, how large does the river/lake have to be?

  15. ananomous
    Apr 16 - 4:12 pm

    Can urine harm a lake?

  16. Nillspace
    Apr 23 - 12:48 pm

    Watch out in the amazon rivers the Candiru Fish, is lurking waiting for a stray pee stream to swim to and make a happy home, blood sucking in the offending organ.

  17. cocoon bobbin
    Apr 30 - 11:03 am

    Very intriguing…. great post! :D

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