Of all the nonsensical worries….

statueI thought this was a joke, but it turns out that it is very real. Officials in Portland, Oregon drained a reservoir, at considerable expense, because a teenager urinated into the water. This is pathogenophobia and chemophobia run amuck.

I would really like to hear the official explanation from the person who made this decision. All I’ve heard so far is that they couldn’t take any chances with the health of the population. Really? And what chance would they be taking? Urine emerging from the bladder contains essentially no bacteria. It might pick some up as it exits through the urethra but this is irrelevant. Also irrelevant are the urea, nitrates and phosphates, the various minerals and numerous organic compounds found in trace amounts. Indeed urine is quite drinkable. Just ask the folks who practice “autourine therapy.” They claim, without evidence, that drinking urine has all sorts of health benefits. It doesn’t, but neither is it dangerous. There are very few diseases that can be transmitted through urine, thyphoid fever being one. Even if the urinator had typhoid, the dilution would take care of the problem.

Have these water treatment officials in Portland considered what happens in swimming pools? I suspect there is a fair amount of urine tainted water consumed there. If you want to worry about bodily excretions in water, focus on fecal matter. How about poop from birds flying over that reservoir? And I suspect there may be a variety of animals that relieve themselves in the water as well.

I just can’t think of anything that could be present in the teenager’s urine that could warrant emptying the reservoir. I think the citizens of Portland who will be paying for this nonsense through tax dollars have a right to be peeved. The culprit has been identified and he will have to be doing his peeing elsewhere; he has been banned for a month from the park where the reservoir is located. Citizens of Portland must be relieved.


Joe Schwarcz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.