Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and many children love it. However, swimming in chlorinated swimming pools offer some health risks. When chlorine enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing, or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce acids. The acids are corrosive and damage cells in the body on contact. Frequent swimming in chlorinated swimming pools increases your child’s exposure to chloramines and suspected carcinogens, trihalomethane and chloroform (these are by-products of chlorine when exposed to organic material). Disinfection chemicals are far more dangerous than chlorine.
Following chlorine exposure, the most common symptoms are:
- Airway irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Chest tightness
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
Health problems linked to swimming pool chemical exposure:
Hormone disruption: Our water supply contains estrogens mimickers. When combined with chlorine, harmful estrogen-mimicking chlorides are also formed. These promote the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, Scientific studies conducted on different species have confirmed that male frogs often developed both male and female sexual organs when exposed to outside sources, such as swimming pools. Also, swimming in chlorinated pools for as little as 30 minutes every two weeks may result in altered hormone levels in boys.
Asthma and allergies: Chlorinated pool exposure increases the burden of asthma and respiratory allergies among children.
Gut flora imbalance: When chlorine gets in the body, it destroys much of the beneficial intestinal flora. It then disrupts digestion and causes issues such as bloating and indigestion.
Follow these three simple steps to reduce your child’s chemical exposure in the swimming pool:
1. Shower before swimming: Rinsing your child’s body with water actually helps with protecting the body against absorbing harmful chemicals. Chloramine is formed when chlorine reacts with ammonia from sweat. When you shower your child, you remove excess sweat so at the same time you are helping to reduce formation of chloramines on the skin. Moreover, this toxic compound can also form in another way…and that is when chlorine mixes with ammonia from urine…. Therefore, this is another important reason to teach your children not to wee in the pool!
2. Apply coconut oil before swimming: Skin is naturally covered with a layer of acidic film in order to protect us from the alkaline structure of bacteria, viruses and chemicals. When we swim in chlorinated pools this protected layer is stripped away, leaving our skin vulnerable to harmful chemicals. In order to protect the skin (and hair) apply coconut oil before swimming. As it is slightly acidic and oily, it adds and extra layer of protection.
3. Neutralise chlorine with Vitamin C: A great way to neutralise the harmful effects of chlorine and chloramines on the skin is to spray Vitamin C on the body and hair following swimming. I always make my own by adding 1 teaspoon of powdered Vitamin C to 2 cups filtered water and dissolve it in a cheap spray bottle. It is simple to make and is very easy to use! Finally, rinse this off and apply one more layer of coconut oil to help replace the skin’s protective acid film layer.
Fortunately, there are chlorine free alternatives for disinfecting pools. Many swimming pools now use UV filters to disinfect the water. If you have access to a chlorine free pool, it may be a safer option.
Enjoy your toxin-free swim!
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