Swimming is a sport that not only makes children happy, but also promotes good health. Time and again, however, studies have shown that the chlorine contained in indoor swimming pools could be detrimental to health, especially that of children. Can chlorine in the water possibly increase the risk of developing asthma and allergies?
Chlorine as a risk for asthmatics?
Especially for children suffering from asthma, swimming has been recommended by experts as an ideal sport, as regular swimming increases the lung volume and also improves the breathing technique. As early as 2001, however, a Belgian study showed results that alarmed many parents. A relationship between chlorine in the water and the tendency to asthma or allergies was detected.
Currently, this topic has been taken up by the media in the health sector. In the discussion is to what extent and from what amount chlorine in the water can possibly represent a health risk for small children and children.
Chlorine for disinfection in the swimming pool
It's no secret that chlorine is pure chemistry. For parents, this quickly raises the question of why it is even necessary to add chlorine to the water, although this may be associated with a health risk. It is important to know that wherever there are many people, germs can quickly form and spread. Especially humid and warm climates, as in indoor swimming pools, are ideal for germination. For this reason, it is very important that the water in the pool is clean and regularly disinfected.
Here, the positive property of chlorine is used. Because once chlorine mixes with water, it can combine with bacteria and other organic substances that are already in the water. This makes chlorine harmless to the bacteria and kills all pathogens present. This is very convenient and useful, because even in a public swimming pool, where many people are staying, even larger amounts of dirt can enter the water and contaminate it. For this reason, municipal swimming pools in Germany are even subject to the obligation to give certain amounts of chlorine in the water. In addition, the standard DIN 19643 requires a limit of one milligram per liter of water, which must not be exceeded. This statutory limit is intended to exclude any potential health hazard from chlorine and by-products of chlorine.
However, experts point out that chlorine, once it combines with organic matter such as sweat, urine or small hair, produces bound chlorine called chloramines. This includes the irritant trichloramine, which is caused by a reaction of chlorine and urine. The chloramines can attack the mucous membranes, get into the respiratory tract and into the eyes - the latter often causes the children to come home after swimming with reddened eyes.
Because the lungs of children, especially infants under the age of 3, are still developing, they may be particularly sensitive. The chlorine can cause a bronchitis in the children, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of respiratory disease. If there is a strong smell of chlorine in the air in the indoor pool, then chlorine is not the trigger for the extreme smell, but the chloramines. Incidentally, a strong smell of chlorine is always a sign that there are too many chloramines in the air!
Healthy swimming through adequate ventilation
For these reasons, good and adequate ventilation in the indoor pool is very important. If children get a strong coughing sensation during their stay in the swimming pool or even complain of a sudden burning sensation in the throat, this can be a clear sign of chloramine irritation. In this case, specialists recommend that you leave the swimming pool and make sure that the lifeguard is aware of it. Because as soon as the water is refreshed, the air is clearer again. Some swimming pools have now opted for alternatives to chlorine, but these are more costly, with the vast majority of municipal swimming pools currently continuing to purify with chlorine.
Conclusion: Swimming is a sport to promote health and well-being. Especially in indoor pools, it is important that they are well ventilated and the formation of chloramines is kept as low as possible.