We human beings have an instinctive reaction to chlorine in our swimming pools: we don’t like it. The smell, the taste, the irritation it causes to eyes, nose, and throat – it’s nasty stuff all right. But most people, who are aware that swimming is an incredibly beneficial form of exercise, accept it as a necessary evil and put up with the irritation.
However, increasing evidence from around the world is telling us that our instinctive dislike of chlorine is correct. Chlorine is not just an irritant, it poses serious threats to our health. Its use in swimming pool water purification has been linked to asthma and other respiratory ailments, especially affecting children. Recent studies have even suggested a link between chlorinated pools and some forms of cancer.
Chlorine in itself is not that harmful, it’s the by-products: the chloramines and trihalomethanes that are created when chlorine reacts with the organic compounds in the water. If you do a little research on the internet, you’ll find hundreds of papers from all around the world on the negative health effects of chlorine. Here are just a few examples.
A recent study in Barcelona, in which they examined the water from public swimming pools, concluded: “swimming pool waters contain many dangerous substances”. The report states: “Swimming pool disinfectants and disinfection by-products (DBPs) have been linked to human health effects, including asthma and bladder cancer. This study conducted a comprehensive identification of disinfection by-products and disinfectant species in waters from public swimming pools that disinfect with chlorine. More than 100 disinfection by-products were identified, including many nitrogen-containing disinfection by-products that were likely formed from nitrogen-containing precursors from human inputs, such as urine, sweat, and skin cells. Many disinfection by-products were new and had not been reported.” It closes with this alarming statement: “The greater exposure to swimming pool water in serious competitive swimmers could increase these toxins to dangerous levels.”