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Avoid Swimming Pools if You Have Allergies or Asthma

swimming poolSwimming in a chlorinated pool may boost the odds that a child susceptible to asthma and allergies will develop these problems.

Chlorinated pools irritate the airways of swimmers, exerting a strong additive effect on the development of asthma and respiratory allergies such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis.

The impact of chlorinated pools on the respiratory health of children and adolescents appears to be much more important -- at least by a factor of five -- than that associated with secondhand smoke.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Swimming is an absolutely phenomenal form of exercise, not to mention a soothing way to relax, but doing it in a chlorinated pool can lead to a number of health problems.

Your body absorbs more chlorine, and more importantly disinfection byproducts (DBPs), by swimming in a chlorinated pool than you would by drinking tap water for one week. Disinfection byproducts are far more serious than chlorine. They form when the chlorine in your pool water reacts with organic matter such as skin and hair.

One group of these DBPs, trihalomethanes (THMs), can be found in higher levels in swimming pools than in unfiltered tap water. They’re a major problem because they hover in the air just above the pool water, and you breathe them in when you swim.

It is this combination of chlorine in swimming pool water and DBPs hovering in the air that led researchers in this latest study to conclude that, in children with allergic sensitivities, swimming in chlorinated pools significantly increased the likelihood of asthma and respiratory allergies.

The increased risk was quite substantial:

  • The risk of hay fever was up to seven times higher for “sensitive” children who swam in chlorinated pools for more than 100 hours

  • The risk of allergic rhinitis was up to 3.5 times higher for those who swam in chlorinated pools for more than 1,000 hours

The longer the children spent in the chlorinated water, the greater their risk of asthma and allergies became.

Experts estimate that many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last few decades, so chlorinated water is an important, potentially toxic, exposure to watch out for, particularly if you or your children are already at risk.

Five More Dangers of Swimming in Chlorinated Swimming Pools

Chlorine is a hazardous chemical when absorbed by your body or inhaled. Most public pools are overloaded with chlorine, as the well-intentioned people who maintain public pools overly shock them with chlorine to make sure bacteria and other organisms get snuffed out quickly.

But even the swimming pool in your backyard could be toxic if you treat it with chlorine.

Many studies have pointed out the health risks associated with swimming in chlorinated water, which include:

  1. Swimming instructors were more than twice as likely to suffer frequently from sinusitis or sore throat, and more than three times as likely to have chronic colds, than pool workers with less trichloramine exposure, such as catering employees or receptionists.

  2. Compared to the general population, pool workers with high levels of exposure were at a 40 percent greater risk for tightness of the chest, and were over 700 percent more likely to suffer breathlessness while walking.

  3. Chlorine in swimming pools poses the risk of spontaneous abortion and stillbirths in pregnant women, and congenital malformations in the fetus.

  4. Chlorine DBPs can cause weakening of your immune system, disruptions to your central nervous system, damaging effects to your cardiovascular system, unhealthy functioning of your renal system and harmful impacts to your respiratory system

  5. In a 2007 study, participants who drank chlorinated water had a 35 percent greater risk of bladder cancer than those who didn’t, while those who swam in chlorinated pools had a 57 percent greater risk.

A Healthier Alternative to Chlorinated Swimming Pools?

If you love to swim but want to maintain high-level health, I strongly recommend avoiding chlorinated or brominated swimming pools.

If you have access to one, swimming in an ocean is best. Salt water actually serves to kill many of the parasites that live on your skin, in your nasal passages, and around your eyes. Swimming in salt water can also take a significant amount of stress off your immune system and help you detoxify and balance your body.

In addition, swimming in the ocean allows you to absorb many of the valuable and beneficial minerals from the salt water.

After salt water, a lake or other natural body of water would be best.

If your only option is a swimming pool, find a way to keep your pool clean from bacteria, algae, and other organisms without the use of dangerous chemicals.

Avoiding Chlorine and DBP Risks Outside of the Pool

You should know that chlorine and DBPs are not only found in chlorinated swimming pools -- they’re also in your tap water, including the water you use to shower and bathe.

DBPs are over 1,000 times more toxic than chlorine, and out of all the other toxins and contaminations present in your water, such as fluoride and miscellaneous pharmaceutical drugs, DBPs may be the absolute worst of the bunch.

Unfortunately, few people are aware of this toxic threat, and those who are aware may still not realize that not all water filtration systems are capable of filtering out DBPs. In fact, there is currently no point-of-entry, whole-house water filtration system that is certified to filter out these toxins.

If you fail to understand this fact, it is virtually impossible to make a wise choice when selecting how you filter your drinking and bathing/showering water. There is a high likelihood you are unaware of this, and the deceptive marketing of the industry may lead you to make choices that are actually NOT protecting you and your family.

In choosing an effective filter for your shower and kitchen tap, you must look for those that remove chlorine along with other contaminants, and do not settle for anything less.