While you think you’re protecting your skin with sunscreen in the pool, you may also be contributing to toxic disinfection byproducts, or DBPs, creation in the water.
There is a common misconception that pool odor and irritation comes from chlorine when in fact it’s chloramines, the disinfection byproduct of pool chlorine reacting to organic material like sweat, skin oils, lotions and sunscreen. DBPs are harmful to your health and can cause eye irritation, allergies and asthma.
Additionally, some researchers have found that pool chlorine can strip off the ultraviolet-protective effects of sunscreen.
A good way to prevent DBPs from forming in the water to shower before you swim – but washing off your sunscreen can expose your skin to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
So, how can you protect your skin from the sun and lower your contribution to DBPs creation in the pool? Here are a some options.
- Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before getting in the water to let it soak into your skin before rinsing off any excess during your pre-swim shower.
- Skip the sunscreen altogether and wear UV protective clothing, like a long-sleeve shirt and hat.
- Swim without sunscreen in the early morning or late evening when the sun’s rays are not as strong.
- If you’re swimming laps, wear a swim with a swim cap to protect your scalp.
- If you’e swimming at your home pool, you can avoiding DBPs all together with chlorine-free pool sanitation and safely wear sunscreen in your pool.
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