Who would have thought that a classic summer fun activity such as swimming could cause cancer? Most pools you swim in contain chlorine, and while chlorine, kills algae, bacteria and germs, did you know that it is also a potential carcinogen?
There are other ways that chlorine may affect the body too, and they are not good.
If you’re exposed to too much chlorine, your skin and hair dry out and it may also cause premature wrinkles. Chlorine has also been linked by some research to birth defects and reproductive disorders. This is because of chlorine by-products called haloacetic acids (HAAs), which occur when chlorine reacts with the impurities in the water.
Respiratory system – Toxic gases are released, such as nitrogen trichloride, especially in indoor pools because of having less ventilation. The gas damages the lining of the lungs, which leads to respiratory problems. It becomes more of a concern with people who have asthma, because the gas will aggravate the condition.
Eye issues – The tear film of your eyes is washed away when your eyes are submerged in chlorinated water. The tear film protects the cornea of your eye, and with the exposure to the chlorine, they are now susceptible to the dirt and bacteria that is not entirely eliminated by the chemical. So, now your eye can be prone to infections. The most popular is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.
Nervous system, lungs, heart – There have been multiple studies that have shown that urine and chlorine do not mix. It sounds really gross, but one in five Americans admit to peeing in the pool. The thought behind it is that the chlorine will kill the germs from the urine, but not so.
When urine and chlorine mix, two toxic chemicals are formed. One is cyanogen chloride (CNCl) which is classified as a chemical of warfare and damages your lungs, heart, and nervous system. The other is trichloramine (NCl3), which is linked to lung damage.
Cancer – Some research has found that chlorinated pools may raise your risk of certain cancers – and that’s before you even enter into the pool. The gases you breath in from the chlorine may be toxic when they’re mixed with surrounding bacteria. Also, a study published in the Oxford Journal of Medicine found that chlorinated pools may increase the risk of bladder cancer, because the chlorine is absorbed into the skin.
Digestive system – Swimming in chlorinated water destroys friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract, which may cause bloating and indigestion, and weakens your immune system.
The researchers are not suggesting anyone get out of the pool. “We do not say stop swimming,” says researcher Manolis Kogevinas, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona. “We should keep a clear message that swimmers should keep swimming.”
If you love to swim and have no choice but to swim in a chlorinated pool, there are few things that you can do to lessen the effects of chlorine on your body.
If you have to swim in a chlorinated pool, swim outdoors. It is much safer due to the fact that the majority of the toxic gases are eliminated in the air.
- Swim in chlorinated pools on occasion only.
- Shower immediately before and after.
- Drink plenty of non-chlorinated, filtered water beforehand so that you are well hydrated.
- Consider wearing a mask and snorkel to protect your eyes – and if you feel like going the extra step for protection, put on a wet suit. If your hair is particularly sensitive to the chlorine, try a bathing cap.
Use caution when choosing a pool that use chlorine. If you have the opportunity, look at pools that are treated with ozone, ionizers, bromine, silver-copper, or other alternatives. Remember to do your research on these as well, so that you are making the safest and healthiest choice for your swim!
-The Alternative Daily