Take a cold shower

October 23, 2014

The suggestion made by two University of East Anglia students that urinating while showering could result in huge water savings (“The week in higher education”, News, 16 October) may have health consequences that were not foreseen by the authors of this scheme.

Our water is chlorinated, and chlorine reacts with organic matter in the water to form “disinfection by-products” (DBPs). Those formed in the presence of urine include nitrosamines – a particularly toxic group of compounds. When one stands under a hot shower for a long period of time, one is in effect standing in a cloud of volatile DBPs and breathing them in. Exposure to DBPs can lead to increased incidences of certain types of cancer – cancer of the bladder in particular.

My tip for saving water, energy and the planet is quite simple: short cold showers. Pee in the toilet but don’t necessarily flush after each emptying of the bladder.

Dr Gilbert Shama
Reader in applied microbiology
Loughborough University

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations