Urinating in the sea can help to feed marine wildlife, scientists claim

But they warned against urinating in swimming pools or protected reefs

Kashmira Gander
Monday 25 August 2014 23:04
People sit on sand in the harbour at low tide in St Ives, Cornwall, England.
People sit on sand in the harbour at low tide in St Ives, Cornwall, England.

Swimmers who can’t face wading back to a bathroom on the shore and instead urinate in the sea may be helping marine wildlife to grow, according to a US chemistry organisation.

When a person urinates in the sea a number of compounds that plants needs to grow are released, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has explained in a new video.

The ACS advises viewers that pee is not as harmful to the ocean as one might think, as water makes up 95 per cent of urine - while the sea itself is 96.5 per cent water.

It adds that the concentrations of sodium and chloride ions in urine are lower than those of the sea itself.

To truly quell the fears of environmentally conscious swimmers, the ACS says that if everyone on the planet peed into the Atlantic ocean then the ratio of urea (the key waste product in urine) entering the ocean would be a miniscule 60 parts per trillion.

In fact, when the nitrogen in urea combines with sea water it produces ammonium, which feeds ocean plant life.

The video also reminds viewers of the obvious fact that that all sea creatures urinate into the ocean – with a Fin wale alone disposing of 970 litres of urine into the a day.

However, the group warned holidaymakers against relieving themselves in protected areas, such as coral reefs, or in smaller bodies of water like swimming pools. This is because when uric acid reacts with chlorine, two of the compounds formed, trichloramine and cyanogen chloride, are linked with lung problems and the latter can also cause heart and nerve problems.

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