The college and high school swim team seasons are finally here – and while that means swimmers and coaches get to enjoy practices and meets – this also means swimmers are potentially more exposed to harmful pool chlorine.
If you’re a competitive swimmer, a swimming coach or if your children are on a swim team this season, it’s important to understand the effects chlorine exposure can have on health.
Here are three ways pool chlorine is harmful to swimmers and how you can lessen exposure to it.
1. Allergies and Asthma
Swimming in a chlorinated pool can trigger asthma and allergies, especially in competitive swimmers. In fact, competitive swimmers who begin swimming in chlorinated water at a young age are more susceptible to developing asthma, allergies or bronchiolitis.
This is likely due to toxic compounds created when chlorine interacts with organic materials in the pool such as lotion, cosmetics or even urine. These compounds, called disinfection byproducts or chloramines, also produce pool smell, the heavy chlorine odor we associate with indoor pools.
Breathing disinfection byproducts can cause allergies, asthma or a condition called Lifeguard Lung that results in a persistent cough.
2. Eye and Skin Irritation
Red, burning eyes and dry itchy skin are common side effects of swimming in a chlorinated pool. Again, disinfection byproducts can cause this discomfort. If you notice that you or your children coming back from swimming practice with bright red eyes or skin rashes, this likely means they’re being exposed to these toxic compounds.
3. Stomach Illness
Many people believe that chlorine kills all germs instantly – when in fact, there are illness-causing contaminants that are resistant to chlorine. A common recreational water illness, called Cryptosporidium parvum, causes serious gastrointestinal illness, can spread rapidly and is often found in public pools.
While illnesses like this are not caused by chlorine, assuming that chlorine will safeguard swimmers from them is risky. Today, many public pools are opting for secondary sanitation systems as an extra method of protection for swimmers.
What you can do: Low-Chlorine Pool Treatment That Works
While many people think salt pool systems contain less chlorine, they actually use salt to generate chlorine. Today, there is a healthier, sustainable, truly low-chlorine option for aquatic facilities.
Hydroxyl-based advanced oxidation, like Clear Comfort’s pool systems, provides clean, clear, fresh water with minimal chlorine use, toxic disinfection byproducts of chlorine and Cryptosporidium parvum risk.
Clear Comfort’s patented secondary sanitation pool technology has been independently proven to:
- Eliminate up to 50+ percent of chlorine use and costs. A Jewish Community Center pool was able to cut its total chlorine use and costs by 41 percent in one year with Clear Comfort.
- Reduce over 90 percent of harmful disinfection byproducts, according to a case study at a YMCA swimming pool.
- Destroy 99.99 percent (4 log inactivation) of Cryptosporidium parvum in 60 minutes of exposure time, according to a study conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder.
If you or your children are around chlorinated pools for practice or meets this swimming season, urge your pool’s aquatics director or facility manager to opt for a healthier pool solution to protect swimmers, coaches and staff’s health.