The Risks Of Swimming In Chlorinated Pools And How To Reduce Them
What are the risks of swimming in chlorinated pools? What precautions can parents of avid swimmers take to reduce the risk of chlorine-associated health problems?
As a former world champion swimmer, my opinion of swimming is biased. I have first-hand experience of the incredible physical and mental health benefits of growing up as a swimmer. I’ve also loved swimming with my kiddos from the time they were babies. For us, it is a time for bonding, exercising regularly, and making fun memories.
When I first heard that swimming in chlorinated pools is risky for health, I didn’t want to believe it. However, research has been building during the past two decades, showing that chlorinated pools may have a harmful impact on health.
At this time, I firmly believe that for most people the benefits of swimming outweigh the risks of chlorine. With that being said, it’s important to be aware of the risks so that you can take steps to mitigate them.
Health Risks Associated With Swimming In Chlorinated Pools
Chlorine is used as a disinfectant in pools. When it mixes with compounds in sweat and/or urine it produces chemicals, called chloramines, which seem to be the main culprits contributing to chlorine’s negative effects.
Risks appear to be highest in small infants with sensitive skin and developing lungs; however, people of all ages are vulnerable to the effects of chlorine. The number of hours that people spend in and around chlorinated pools increases their risk of the following adverse effects:
- Skin & eye irritation & eczema
- Lung irritation & asthma
- Increase in hayfever & allergies
- Possible increase in risk of bladder & rectal cancer
- Possible increase in cardiovascular disease
Strategies To Reduce Negative Health Impacts Of Chlorine
1. Rinse before and after swimming
Rinsing before swimming removes sweat, which can mix with chlorine and create harmful chloramines. Rinsing after swimming removes chlorine from skin and hair to reduce possible skin irritation.
2. Apply moisturizer after swimming
Chlorinated pools can strip moisture from the skin. Applying a natural moisturizer after swimming can help keep skin healthy and reduce irritation. We prefer coconut oil.
3. Supplement with antioxidants like vitamin C
Supplementing with antioxidants in general and vitamin C, in particular, can help prevent damage associated with chlorine-mediated glutathione depletion, especially in the lungs.
4. Support healthy immune balance
Supporting a healthy immune balance may reduce the likelihood of developing allergies, asthma, and eczema. My top choices for immune balance are Mother’s Immunity Support (now available as a glycerite formula), probiotics, and vitamin D.
5. Look for alternatives to chlorination
Disinfection is important to keep pools clean and safe to swim in. However, chlorination isn’t the only disinfection option. Saltwater systems, ozonation, ionization, and other strategies can reduce or eliminate the need for chlorine while keeping water safe and clean.
6. Choose outdoor pools when possible
Outdoor pools have better air circulation which reduces the amount of harmful chemicals that can be inhaled.
Swimming is a great choice of physical activity for kids and adults alike. However, chlorinated pools can irritate the skin and lungs and are associated with an increase in allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, and hay fever.
Good pool habits like showering before and after swimming and keeping skin moisturized and healthy can reduce the risks of swimming in chlorinated pools. Choosing outdoor pools and/or pools that use alternative methods of disinfection can further reduce the risks.
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