The Polluting Impact Of Our Urine
Urine has a bad press, which is sad. Consequently, it’s not a subject for the dinner table. It is, of course, a waste product and yet not included in the typical waste streams, like plastic and paper. That is because, in theory, it is a benign substance and, if dehydrated, a person can drink their urine without harm. Although that is true, the waste products in the urine then have to go through the kidneys a second time, but in higher concentration. Our urine has its uses. In my early walking days, I bathed my feet in it. It was an army trick for hardening the skin but huge blisters still arose on a 24 hour 54 mile walk. That was in the 1960’s and before life changed. In recent years, the polluting impact of our urine is increasingly recognized.
Piddle, before the pill and all this medication we now consume, was little more than coloured water. The waste from our bodies related purely to the food and drink we swallowed. The colour of urine was a pointer as to whether you were dehydrated or not. The more orange it turned, the more you needed to drink. Water, that is. When we started regular medication, like the pill, it’s as if we naturally assumed that anything harmful in it would be metabolized by the liver and kidneys. That means turned into benign waste. However, in recent years the truth has become more apparent. Some drugs, it appears, play their part in the body and are flushed out virtually unchanged. Once in water, nature simply cannot recognize the content and is perplexed. Some drugs are discharged from the body in small quantities because of the way our bodies work.
When we consume drugs, they pass through the small intestine wall into the bloodstream. As the blood passes through the liver, it identifies the drug as a foreign substance and removes what it can. The dose we take, aware of this, is big enough to overwhelm the liver until the drug has, say, reduced pain somewhere. Slowly but surely, the liver discharges all the medication via the two kidneys, which filter 200 litres of fluid every 24 hours. Small amounts of paracetamol, oestrogen and similar are constantly released into our piddle and onwards into streams and rivers. A glass of water from the tap and we may all be able to sing soprano without pain.
The polluting impact of our urine
My pagan ancestor Zuri, back in the Neolithic, was much closer to nature than me. Her piddle was harmless whilst mine, apart from pharmaceuticals, includes plastic and horticultural chemicals. The latter arise from the fruit and vegetables I eat. Were someone to piddle on the stones at Stonehenge, heaven forbid, that corrosive pee would damage the stone and persist in the soil for perhaps millennia. Finding it years later, what would experts deduce about us?