Pool Chemicals and Your Health

Swimming is a fantastic way to look after your health. Not only is it an ideal way to burn calories and get some cardiovascular training (because it’s not only fun, but also causes no stress for the joints), but it’s also a great form of resistance training that can tone and build muscle around the entire body. Surely there’s a catch?

Well it’s not a catch so much, but there is one consideration to bear in mind if you’re making regular trips to the swimming pool – and that’s the effects of the various chemicals that are used to keep the pool clean. Unfortunately there are currently no known alternatives to using chemicals to make pools as clean as possible, and this is certainly preferable to not cleaning the water at all. Unfortunately it can still be the cause of some problems.

Pool Chemicals

Chlorine is the main substance used to disinfect swimming pools and this is what makes the water taste strange when you accidentally get some in your mouth. However at the same time it can also cause problems through inhalation which is of course very difficult to avoid.

The main danger of chlorine comes when it is mixed with acid, causing it to form a hazardous chlorine gas. This chlorine gas has been linked to asthma, and so those who have asthma already might find they are more prone to experiencing problems when they swim in public pools, but even those without exiting conditions might find they develop respiratory problems as a result of inhaling these gases. While the majority of problems caused have been focussed on the respiratory system, in some cases they have also caused eye problems.

Other recent studies suggest that pool chemicals might also be lead to an increased risk of developing cancer. This occurs as a result of DNA damage, that might be caused when the chlorine reacts with urine, cosmetics or other substances.

Solutions for Pool Keepers

While there are some problems associated with swimming in chlorinated pools however, this doesn’t mean that ‘swimming is bad for you’ (far from it in fact) or that you should only swim in fresh water. Of course many of us have been swimming for our entire lives and experienced no problems and these won’t suddenly sprout up now. Plenty of things can increase our chances of developing cancer, and it’s simply not possible to avoid all of them. Furthermore, reports suggest that the majority of problems caused by pool chemicals would be avoidable if the correct precautions had been taken. For the owner of swimming pools this means:

  • Never mixing pool chemicals with acid
  • Keeping pool chemicals in shady and cool areas
  • Be careful to research the chemicals you use, and to ensure they are all in-date
  • Wear protective gear such as eye glasses when using them
  • Enforce strict rules with regards to the way others behave in the pools
  • If you own a private pool and suffer with respiratory conditions, consider natural alternatives such as salt water chlorination

Solutions for Swimmers

For swimmers there are also certain things that can help to limit problems in the swimming pool. Here are some tips that you can use to avoid experiencing problems yourself, but also to avoid contributing to the problems for others:

  • Avoid swallowing water
  • Take your asthma inhalers
  • Rinse before getting into the pool
  • Get out to urinate – you’re not in the sea now…
  • Be careful what you wear – now is not the time for makeup or sun cream and particularly if they are acidic
  • Wear goggles
  • When possible choose swimming baths over pools in hotels and gyms – the problems are more likely to occur in areas where the pool is not the main ‘focus’



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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

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