A professor of dermatology from the University of Bradford has warned that the use of chlorine in swimming pools may be giving children asthma, and leaving them more sensitive to conditions like eczema and hay fever.
It is chloramines, rather than the chlorine itself, which is to blame for sore eyes and noses, skin irritation and the swimming pool ‘smell’. Cloramines are created when dead skin, bacteria, urine and sweat come into contact with chlorine (a by-product of the disinfection process). The fumes created by cloramines in the water can aggravate respiritory symptoms.
Professor of Dermatology Andrew Wright says;
“Chlorine is potentially harmful – some studies have found that the chrlorine used in pools can increase a youngster’s risk of asthma up to six fold”.
There are alternatives to chlorine which are increasing in popularity. The two most popular alternatives are:
1. UV Filtration – uses UV light to kill existing bacteria. This sanitises the water as it enters the pool, but cannot kill new bacteria brought in by bathers.
2. Ozone – an effective oxidiser which can be used to clean water as it enters a pool, but again, cannot kill new bacteria as it is brought in.
Both of these methods do need some form of antibacterial added to the water, so a very low level of chlorine is often used alongside.
The other school of thought is that swimming can be an excellent exercise asthmatic children, as the humid environment aids breathing.
Some experts have also suggested that outdoor pools may be better for avoiding the chloramine fumes which linger just above the surface of the water, where the swimmer breathes in.
Some tips which may be helpful:
1. Avoid a pool which has an overwhelming chemical smell.
2. Get out immediately if you experience any irritation to skin, eyes or breathing.