public swimming pool myth
December 28, 2007 12:34 PM   Subscribe

When I was a kid there was this idea that if you pissed in a public swimming pool the water around you will turn blue and follow you around. Today I asked a few friends and everyone got told the same thing. Is this just a myth invented to stop kids from doing this or is it real?

Inquiring minds need to know.
posted by dydecker to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's just a myth invented to stop kids from peeing in pools. See Snopes; see also the fact that no one has ever, ever seen this happen, and that a lot of kids have tested it out of curiousity or spite.
posted by cortex at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2007

I vividly remember looking down and seeng a large yellow cloud forming around me whilst peeing in a pool once. It did, in fact, briefly follow me, you know, water currents and such.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2007

posted by spacewrench at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2007

Asked and mostly answered here and here.
posted by procrastination at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2007

Interesting! I knew that this was not the case in public pools, from simple observation, but I was about to adamantly swear that there is at least a chemical that could be used to do it.. turns out I was suckered in too ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 12:39 PM on December 28, 2007

It's funny how all the pool maintenance folks in that snopes article warn that kids would be intentionally peeing in pools everywhere if they thought it would change the color of the water, but the whole point of the legend seems to be preventing kids from peeing in the pool.

As a young kid I heard that peeing would turn the water red. As a slightly older kid, I heard that the "red water" story was something adults made up to avoid having to explain periods to kids, in case somebody ended up getting their period in the pool. (I guess we figured it all came gushing out without warning?) The misinformation of youth is mind-boggling.
posted by vytae at 1:22 PM on December 28, 2007

For the record, the tale I was told at camp was that the water would turn purple, not blue.

I don't remember ever actually believing this. I don't even remember grownups seriously putting this forth -- it was always the big kids trying to convince the little kids that as mere babies, they'd better be careful or everyone would see that they'd peed in the pool.
posted by desuetude at 1:50 PM on December 28, 2007

Huh, nobody ever told me that one. Wouldn't yellow (the actual color of most kids' pee) be worse? Blue is kind of a regular swimming pool color (liners and tiles tend to be blue) so it seems like blue wouldn't even stand out. The warm yellow spot was always what we kids would try to avoid (walking through, or creating).

Anyway, yeah, it's a myth. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:52 PM on December 28, 2007

I remember at a girl's birthday pool party in 8th grade or so, the birthday girl warned all the kids not to pee in the pool, because they had a chemical in the pool that would turn purple when someone peed. At this point, about five minutes after everyone had jumped in, about three different boys gleefully piped up and said, "No, you don't!" Good times.

I always thought that such a product existed, but that the girl's parents were just too cheap to actually buy it. When I was older and living in FL, the land of pools, I realized that it didn't exist, and if it did, people probably wouldn't use it (why embarrass the offender?).
posted by SassHat at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2007

Reminds me of the episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete where they have "Wee-wee see," a product that shows when people pee in the pool.
posted by fructose at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2007

Such a product does exist, or at least did here in NZ when I was in high school fourteen years ago or so. A friend of mine demonstrated while swimming in a neighbours pool, and the pool owner confirmed they'd put whatever it was in there. It was a small amount of very faint colour and faded pretty fast, not really effective at all, but still distinctly blue. I'm sorry I don't know what it was called but yeah, it definitely happened and I was old enough at the time (17ish) to be sure it was a real event and not some fabricated childhood memory.
posted by shelleycat at 2:42 PM on December 28, 2007

I realized that it didn't exist, and if it did, people probably wouldn't use it (why embarrass the offender?).

Embarrassing the offender is the whole point of the mythical substance -- otherwise, some kids would be too lazy to get out of the pool to pee.
posted by desuetude at 2:44 PM on December 28, 2007

I used to do pool maintenance at a public pool as a teenager. One of the tasks was to check the chlorine levels in the water several times a day. This was done by taking a sample of the water in a small vial and adding a few drops of reagent that indicated by color the concentration of chlorine. The little kids would sometimes crowd around to see what I was doing and I would explain that I was testing what was in the water. Their eyes would get big when the sample turned magically bright yellow and I looked sternly at them.
posted by JackFlash at 2:51 PM on December 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

Everyone knows that's a load of wank.
posted by flabdablet at 5:10 PM on December 28, 2007

Back in the late 90’s here in Miami-Dade special bond issues were passed after a vote and thousands of dollars were spent on renovating a local Olympic sized public pool. I remember vividly, reading an article on the Miami Herald stating the improvements made; and one of them was the addition of a chemical to detect urine. I have looked all over their archives and have not been able to find that article to post here… Could the pool staff gone as far as lying to the press about this to keep this “myth” alive?
posted by MrBCID at 8:54 PM on December 28, 2007

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