Chlorine by-products in swimming pools are linked to higher incidents of asthma, skin disease, lung damage
stillbirths, miscarriages and bladder cancer, according to research conducted in the US, Canada, Norway, Australia,
and Belgium. One researcher noted that 10-year old children spending an average of 1.8 hours a week in a pool environment
suffered lung damage she'd expected in adult smoker. Dr K Thickett of the Occupational Lung Disease Unit at the Birmingham
Heartlands Hospital says swimmers are more prone to asthma than other athletes. 'Our results show that nitrogen trichloride
(produced by chlorine) is a cause of occupational asthma in swimming-pool workers like lifeguards and instructors'. When
asthma patients stayed away from pools, asthma symptoms where often resolved. [Julia Stephenson,The Green Goddess,
The Independent, 1/8/05]
The safety aspect of swimming pools, previously hailed by the health and safety freaks as the
only safe place to swim has now come under doubt following publication of
the results of a recent study conducted at the Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels,
which indicates that chlorine used to disinfect indoor swimming pools is linked to the destruction
of cell barriers that protect the deep lungs. Researchers led by Dr Alfred Barnard, found that
among children who swum the most frequently the effects were equivalent to the damage found
in the lungs of regular smokers. When chlorine reacts with organic matter, such as urine or
sweat, several by-products are produced including nitrogen trichloride - a powerful irritant.
The study which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
measured blood protein levels of 226 healthy primary school children. The children had swum
regularly since early childhood. Samples were also taken from children and adults before and
after a session in an indoor pool to see how quickly nitrogen trichloride has been effective.
Finally they correlated childhood asthma using data from about 2000 children aged 7-14 and
concluded that swimming in indoor pools can be behind the surge in childhood asthma.
The researchers raised the question of whether non-chlorine
disinfectants should be used.
The results of a more recent investigation by Dr Barnard (reported in the press in September 2008) indicate that the
problem exists even in outdoor, chlorinated pools.
Click here to see what other doctors have to say
Chlorine and 'organic matter' - no substitute for natural flowing water