Outdoor pools boost child’s asthma risk: study

By | September 25, 2008

Swimming in outdoor chlorinated pools appears to increase the odds a child will develop asthma, Belgian researchers said on Thursday.

Other studies have linked chlorine and asthma but the new findings published in the European Respiratory Journal cast doubt on the idea outdoor pools are safer than indoor ones where chlorine vapors remains trapped inside an enclosed space.

“The more you swim, the higher the risk,” said Alfred Bernard, a toxicologist at Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, who led the study. “What is new in this study is that we looked at outdoor pools for the first time.”

Asthma, which affects more than 300 million people worldwide, is the most common pediatric chronic illness. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness.

Bernard and colleagues showed that outdoor pools are just as or more risky than indoor ones because harmful vapors remain at the pool surface and do not drift away.

And because children tend to spend more time in pools they are more likely to swallow chlorinated water or ingest vapors containing chemicals that attack the cellular barriers protecting the lung from allergens, Bernard said. – yahoo

I spent so many hours in outdoor pools as a kid. Perhaps if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t now get a little wheezy when the air quality reaches the “Sersiouly dangerous for all humans” level.

3 thoughts on “Outdoor pools boost child’s asthma risk: study

  1. Karl

    This is pretty interesting but I think these findings are at odds with all the other research out there. I’ve gotten to do some work with the American Chemistry Council and what I’ve gathered is that pools that are insufficiently or improperly chlorinated are ripe for some truly heinous waterborne diseases– there’s all kinds of little microbial stuff floating around in an untreated pool.

    For instance if you ever go to a pool where there’s an overpowering “chlorine smell”– that’s not an indicator of too much chlorine, but rather an indicator of chlorine reacting with too much filth, i.e. that is a pool in need of serious attention.

    If you’re curious about the particulars I suggest you look at the World Health Organization guide to safe recreational waters.

  2. Xeno Post author

    Thanks Karl, You may be right. I don’t think all the swimming in public pools I did as a kid hurt my lungs. Interesting about the chlorine smell. What is the source of your information on that? Chlorine right out of the bottle has a smell, doesn’t it?

  3. Karl

    Xeno, thanks for responding to my comment. You’re right of course, that chlorine out of a bottle has an odor… but then of course in a pool it is extremely diluted. A lot of people caring for pools will add the chlorine at night. As it breaks down and neutralizes the day’s accretion of microbial pathogens, those chemical reactions will produce an odor– and a little while later the pool is clean and there’s no odor.

    The view that strong odors coming off a pool indicate chemical reactions taking place… I guess I first picked it up as a kid lucky enough to have regular access to an outdoor pool every summer. However, just yesterday I read this article by Dr. Peggy Greimer:

    Smell is an important signal. Many swimmers mistakenly blame the ‘chlorine-like’ smell on “too much chlorine.” In reality, a properly operated pool should have little odor. What that ‘chlorine-like’ smell means is that there is too much pee, poop, sweat, sunscreen etc., that has used up the residual disinfectant to form chloramines that can cause red eyes and itchy skin. What this type of pool needs is more treatment. Download “Sense”-able Swimming fact sheet (PDF)

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