How Pool Disinfection Byproducts Affect Asthma and Allergies

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), which means it is the perfect time to think about how the air quality at your indoor pool facility affects swimmers and staff. 

Can Swimming Pools Cause Asthma and Allergies?

According to the AAFA, more than 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies overall. Many people who have asthma or allergies do not even enter chlorinated pools because the “chlorine smell” can cause them discomfort.

Swimming pools with mismanaged chemistry can produce disinfection byproducts (DBPs), which leads to poor air quality at indoor aquatics facilities. This poor air quality can trigger asthma, allergies and other serious health problems like “Lifeguard Lung.”

What Are Disinfection By-products? 

When you notice the strong smell of chlorine-like fumes at an indoor aquatic facility, it is mostly due to the disinfection by-products in the pool water and air. Disinfection by-products are a type of chloramine, or combined chlorine, and are created when chlorine or bromine interacts with organic materials – like sweat, lotion, dirt or oils – in the pool water

Why Are Disinfection By-products Harmful to Swimmers?

In addition to causing chemical pool smell, chloramines and other pool disinfection by-products can cause swimmer skin, eye and lung irritation. They can also trigger allergies and asthma, and may even contribute to higher rates of asthma among Olympic swimmers compared to other Olympic athletes.

How to Get Rid of Disinfection By-products in Swimming Pools

While commercial aquatics facilities require a certain level of chlorine to keep the water properly disinfected, using a secondary or supplemental sanitation system can help reduce and avoid the production of chloramines and other disinfection byproducts in the pool water and air. 

Advanced Oxidation, or AOP, sanitation pool systems are proven to significantly reduce DBPs, while also allowing aquatics facilities to safely reduce the amount of chlorine and other chemicals they use. This helps to create a swimming environment that is safe for even the most chlorine-sensitive swimmers.

Clear Comfort’s hydroxyl-based AOP system reduces pool disinfection byproducts by 70 to 90 percent and allows for a chemical reduction of 30 to 50 percent in commercial pools. Reductions like these make a huge difference for people who have asthma or allergies and can allow people to enjoy swimming who may not have even been able to enter a pool in the past.

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Geoff McKenzie

Marketing Specialist
Geoff brings experience in writing, publishing, manufacturing and business development to Clear Comfort. He has written freelance for publications such as O Magazine and has worked at major media outlets, such as Men’s Health and Backpacker Magazine.Before Clear Comfort, he served as a community economic development volunteer in the Peace Corps and is now proud to be a part of a leading innovative company that is revolutionizing the pool industry. Geoff is passionate about sustainability, technology and cultural exchange. He is fluent in Spanish and enjoys traveling, biking, reading and writing in his free time.