Q&A

Peeing in the lake

By Cottage LifeCottage Life

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Photo by Klara Franklyn

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The Question

Is it okay to pee in the lake?

The Answer

Nature may be calling, but peeing indoors is probably a better idea. Adding urine to lake water can pose a health hazard and people should stick to their indoor facilities or an outhouse. Environmentally speaking, nitrates in urine can, in theory, promote algae growth and studies have shown that it can also carry trace amounts of pharmaceuticals or medicines, including estrogen from birth control pills that scientists believe can disrupt normal reproduction cycles in male fish. As far as human health is concerned, while urine is usually sterile, it can carry bacterial infections, such as leptospirosis, which causes flu-like symptoms and can also lead to meningitis. And for some individuals the health hazards can increase exponentially when peeing far from shore: According to the Canadian Surveillance System for Water-Related Fatalities, 42 Canadians drowned between 1991 and 2000 because they urinated from their boat and fell overboard.


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