December 28, 2012
Michael Phelps Pees In The Pool, And That’s Ok, Scientists Say
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Scientists confirmed a claim made by Michael Phelps back at the 2012 Olympics in London that peeing in the pool was just fine.
Phelps caused reason for concern by admitting during the Olympics that many swimmers pee in the pool, but said that it was okay because the chlorine killed any germs.
Stuart Jones, a biochemist with Sense About Science (SAS), a charity that aims to dispel commonly held myths, said that he was in fact correct.
“In fact Michael, urine is essentially sterile so there isn´t actually anything to kill in the first place," Jones said in a statement. "Urine is largely just salts and water with moderate amounts of protein and DNA breakdown products."
He mentioned that chlorine is just preventing the bacteria from growing inside the pool water.
“So you´re basically right, peeing in a swimming pool, even if all swimmers do it simultaneously, has very little impact on the composition of the pool water itself," he said.
According to Jones, an Olympic pool contains over 2 million liters of water, and a single urination is in the range of 0.2 liters.
“To have any significant effect on the overall composition of the pool water you´d need a serious amount of peeing," Jones added.
Other celebrities have made outrageous scientific claims, such as Simon Cowell who said that he breaths pure oxygen to reduce tiredness. However, these celebrities have had the appearance of a more blonde moment rather than a real scientific claim, such as Phelps.
Kay Mitchell, Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment, said breathing pure oxygen can help athletes make quicker recoveries, but doctors are concerned about the damage caused by oxygen levels getting too high.
“This oxygen toxicity can cause cell damage leading to cell death, particularly in lungs where oxygen levels are highest, and so breathing pure oxygen can cause collapse of lung air sacs," Mitchell said in a statement. “This could make you susceptible to lung infections.”
SAS released a year-end review titled "Celebrities and Science 2012," which pointed to athletes like Soccer player Mario Balotelli and tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams using colored sport's tape to help mend injuries. Although this method has proven to be popular, Professor Greg Whyte said in the report that there is little science evidence to suggest the tape actually relieves anything.