Peeing in the ocean: Is it OK?

When you're enjoying the beach on a hot summer day and realize you have to go, can you just pee in the ocean? A group of scientists says, yes, go ahead.

American Chemical Society says yes, but not everyone likes the message

Is it okay to 'go' in the ocean? CBC's Chris Brown reports

7 years ago
Scientists have some surprising news about 'going' in the ocean 2:33

When you're enjoying the water on a hot summer day and realize you have to go, do you need to swim all the way back to the bathroom? Or can you just pee in the ocean?

Go ahead and pee, says a new video from the American Chemical Society, an association of professional chemists and chemical engineers. The video points out that urine is almost entirely made of water, sodium and chloride, which are already found in large quantities in the ocean. Pee does contain a tiny bit of the waste product urea, but the amount is minuscule compared to the 350 quintillion litres of water in the Atlantic Ocean alone.

Besides, the video suggests, the urea may be good for the environment: "Urea contains a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen combines with water to produce ammonium which feeds ocean plant life."

Peter Ross, an ocean pollution expert at the Vancouver Aquarium, says peeing in the ocean may be a concern in places where there are a lot of people.

"On the other hand," he added, "I think we're probably talking mostly about etiquette here."

However, people concerned about raw sewage being dumped into the ocean by cities like Victoria, B.C. have expressed concern about the message promoted in the video.

"There are people who don't believe sewage treatment is necessary,"  Christianne Wilhelmson, of the Georgia Strait Alliance, told CBC's Chris Brown. "And they'll use this information to mislead communities."

Can't see the American Chemical Society video below? Watch here


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