Health Effects of High Chlorine in Swimming Pools

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Most regular swimmers know that high chlorine content in swimming pools causes health problems such as skin and eye irritation. But it turns out the risks posed by swimming-pool chlorine are potentially more dangerous than rashes and red eyes. Chlorine is also linked to chronic breathing problems, certain cancers and erosion of tooth enamel.

Breathing

  • A study by the American College of Sports Medicine revealed that more than 60 percent of competitive swimmers experience exercise-induced bronchoconstriction after several minutes of swimming in a pool with standard levels of chlorine, even if they have no prior breathing problems.

Children

  • Children are five times more likely to develop asthma if they swim in chlorinated pool water one hour per day for 10 years, for a total of 500 hours, according to researchers at Catholic University in Belgium.

Carcinogens

  • Swimming-pool chlorine combined with swimmer perspiration, skin cells and urine creates chemical compounds called trihalomethanes, which are carcinogens that can potentially cause cancer.

Cancer

  • The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports an 83 percent increase in bladder cancer among those who bathe regularly in highly chlorinated water---findings that have greater implications for people who swim frequently, since swimming-pool water is more highly chlorinated than tap water.

Teeth

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed as early as 1983 that competitive swimmers who swam regularly in pool water that was too highly chlorinated, and consequently acidic, consistently showed signs of eroded tooth enamel.

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