Is Swimming in Chlorinated Pools Bad for You?
Chlorine helps protect swimmers from waterborne germs. It is used in pool water because it kills bacteria, oxidizes debris from perspiration and body oils, and reduces swimmers’ risk of getting diarrhea, swimmer’s ear, and various skin allergies or infections. Despite all these, the chemical has quite the reputation on the pool deck for other complications.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that swimmers are at greater risk for bronchial hyperactivity or asthma when exposed to chloramines. This respiratory discomfort is caused by poor pool ventilation systems and the mixture of chlorine with sweat, urine, and hair, which leads to the formation of chloramines. Swimmer's cough can be avoided by making sure that you rinse off with soap and water before getting into the pool or use the toilet to pee before or when you feel like you need to.
Other Allergic Sensitivities
Chlorine and the byproducts it releases in the water hover above the air at the pool’s surface, according to a study performed by toxicologist, Dr. Alfred Bernard. Ever wonder why your teammate is experiencing sneezing and runny nose after swimming in the pool? This may be the cause. It causes changes in the airway and promotes the development of allergic sensitivities.
To keep yourself from sneezing a lot while in the pool, simply get out of the pool to get away from the chemicals or try a doctor-recommended over-the-counter allergy medication. It is best to consult an allergist to get proper diagnosis and medical prescription if needed.
Dry Flaky Skin
If you're wondering why you get dry skin after swimming in the pool, this is caused by prolonged exposure to chlorine. Chlorine removes a protective layer created by our sebaceous glands. When these are shed off, the skin loses moisture. Luckily, the skin will regenerate the sebaceous glands. But still, flaking, itching, and stinging would still be part of the process.
Dental Health Damage
“Swimmer erosion” or enamel erosion, is a term that dentists use to call an undesirable side effect of chlorinated pool water on swimmers’ teeth. It is the breakdown of tooth enamel, which results to a dark staining or yellowing of the teeth. Other symptoms associated with this include extremely hot or cold food and rigidity and indentation on the surface of the tooth.
Many (if not most) pools and health club owners choose to go with chlorine in their pool water. So to limit chlorine damage, try these tips:
- Take a shower before and after swimming and use natural, chemical-free soap
- Drink plenty of filtered water to stay hydrated
- Get fresh air outside (if you’re swimming in an indoor pool) and take breaks off the pool when you’re training
- Eat healthy so that your body is not only protected from harmful chemicals, but also prepared for the physical and mental aspects of the sport