Chlorine in Swimming Pools and the Link to Asthma

My husband has asthma and while he hasn’t struggled seriously with it, I am hoping our children will not get it.  So far, I think our daughter is in the clear but time will tell whether or not our son has it.  I’ve done many things to reduce their risk including keeping harmful cleaning products out of our house, using organic dairy products, keeping pets out of our house and using allergen free products on our beds

I’ve also kept them out of chlorinated swimming pools.  Don’t worry, our kids aren’t deprived of summer fun in the water.  There have been plenty of pools and sprinklers, but we’ve limited their swimming in chlorinated pools to the occasional pool party or vacation pool. 

Several studies have found a link between chlorine in swimming pools and asthma in children.:

  •  Science Daily reported that a study in Norway found that children with mothers who had asthma or allergies have an increased risk of wheezing if the child takes swimming lessons before 6 months.
  • A study in Belgium found that teenagers who spent more than 100 hours swimming in chlorinated pools were up to six times more at risk of having asthma than other teens.
  • The European Respiratory Journal reportedthat children who start swimming ( in indoor OR outdoor pools ) before the age of 2 may be at increased risk of bronchiolitis, and those who developed the infection were also at increased risk of developing asthma or respiratory allergies by kindergarten.

 All that being said, 20% of the U.S. Olympic swim team have asthma and they are obviously talented athletes, despite having asthma.

Alternatives to Chlorinated Pools

In the U.S., chlorine treated pools has been the norm for a long time but that is slowing changing.  Ozone and UV treated pools, common in Europe, are slowly making their way across the pond.  There are a couple salt water pools in our city, as well.  While many of these alternatives do use chlorine, the chlorine used is a lot lower.  The best way to find out how pools are treating their water is to call and ask!  The best way to avoid chlorine is to visit the great outdoors where you can find fresh water swimming opportunities at the beach, in the river or at the lake.

If you have your own pool, there are several purification systems that market themselves as chlorine-free including the Ecosmarte Pool, Carefree Clearwater, and EClear.

Now that my daughter is 3, she’s in swimming lessons, in a chlorinated pool.  With her age and interest in water, I think it’s important for her to have swimming skills for safety, exercise and lifelong enjoyment.  From current research findings, it sounds like she is also past the point of highest risk.  We will likely keep our son out of chlorinated pools until he is 2 or 3 and then enroll him in swimming lessons, too.  Hopefully by that time, we will have the opportunity to put him in a lessons in a pool treated with chlorine alternatives.  

Do you have chlorine-free pools in your area?  Are you concerned about chlorine in your pool’s water and the link to asthma?

This is part of the Healthy Child Blog Carnival about Clean Water and Air Solutions  – an effort by Healthy Child Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals.

 

Comments

  1. Good to know – thanks for this post. Can you recommend any chlorine-free pools in the Portland area?

  2. Hi Kate,

    I know the 24 Hour Fitness in Hollywood is salt water and East Portland, Mt. Scott and SW Community Center pools are treated with UV filters. I believe Matt Dishman and Columbia pools were getting UV filters as well but I’m not sure that it has happened yet. I would call to confirm.

  3. I had not heard this, but it makes sense. I try to avoid bleach b/c I know it’s toxic for the environment. This research makes me feel less lame for not really introducing my 3-yr-old to the water yet.

  4. Great tips! You might want to consider eliminating dairy completely. As an allergic and asthmatic family, we’ve seen a big decrease in our asthma symptoms from doing all the things you mention above. But cutting out almost all dairy and gluten has made a huge impact too. Most humans cannot tolerate cow’s milk. It’s not unusual for allergic and asthmatic folks to be sensitive to dairy.

  5. Hi Tiffany,
    I know this is random, but I’m putting together a flyer for water safety for 911 dispatch and LOVE the picture you used with the boys underwater. Can I have permission to use your photo for my flyer?

    Thanks so much!
    Amara

  6. Hi Amara, I don’t know where I got that photo (it’s been so long since I posted it). I’ve learned a lot of photos since then and if I were you, I would find a photo that you can use permission from the person that took it. Thank you for visiting!

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