Have you ever peed in a pool? Not everyone will readily cop to it, though an anonymous 2012 survey found that 19 percent of adults admitted they’d done it at least once. Sadly, there aren’t chemicals to turn the water a darker color to signal someone is peeing in the pool.
With more than 89 million people swimming in public pools in the US each summer, there’s plenty of potential for urine and feces to make it into those waters. And these contain some of the nastiest bacteria and parasites, including norovirus, shigella, E. coli, and cryptosporidium. In even a well-maintained pool, chlorine and other disinfectants can’t immediately kill germs. Some of these pathogens still take more time than you think to be neutralized.
This means that peeing in pools isn’t just gross; it can also make you sick. Between 2000 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 493 outbreaks from treated recreational waters. Common symptoms included watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, respiratory illness, and skin rashes.
So how can you protect yourself from germs when going swimming? Not swallowing the water is one way; to learn about the others, watch the video above. And subscribe to our channel to catch up on Vox’s latest videos.