I have been a swimmer for many years but lately, I am a bit concerned about the absorption of chemicals such as chlorine and other additives – in addition to products used by other people – inside the pool. Are there real reasons to be concerned if they are present in the pool or not?
It is understandable to feel uneasy about a chemical compound that dries the skin, and hair and has an odor that lasts for a long time, even after showering. However, according to experts, there is no reason to worry about swimming in a pool with no chlorine.
As previously said, you could probably swim in a pool without chlorine without suffering any serious health consequences. Long-term usage of a pool without chlorinated water, on the other hand, could make you sick or, at the least, cause rashes and other sorts of skin irritation.
Chlorine is a substance used in swimming pools to prevent bacteria and fungi, however, prolonged exposure or poor management of the amounts can lead to health problems.
When summer and high temperatures arrive, the swimming pool appears like a comforting option to spend the day. However, there is one element that can spoil the party: chlorine. To fully enjoy a swim in the pool, certain guidelines must be followed, especially in terms of hygiene, to avoid health problems.
The chlorine in the water of urban swimming pools is used to prevent the proliferation of bacteria and fungi, and thus to be able to swim safely.
But if the amounts of chlorine in the water are not correct, swallowing some of the pool contents while swimming, or simply coming into contact with the water, can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and damage to teeth.
It can cause even major problems such as coughing fits or, in extreme cases, pulmonary edema.
Water contains a pH higher than that of the epidermis, so when we bathe or wash our hands, the skin tends to dry out. Chlorine, even when present in adequate quantities, can be altered by normal products, such as sunscreen creams, deodorants, or perfumes.
This change can damage the skin’s protective fatty mantle, drying it out even more than with water alone, according to dermatologists from the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV). This dehydration also directly affects nails and cuticles.
To avoid chlorine problems, it is advisable to shower well before and after getting into the pool, not to swallow water, to use diving goggles to avoid conjunctivitis and to moisturize the skin well after getting out of the water.
Another substance that is also often found in swimming pool water is chloramine, a compound that arises from the chemical reaction between chlorine and the organic fluids that people add when swimming, such as saliva and urine.
This substance can cause coughing, allergies, and asthma, especially in young children, who are most likely to stay in the water and have the least sphincter control.
Chloramine and chlorine irritate the mucous membranes of the eyes, which is why they are the cause of a large number of conjunctivitis that occurs after a day at the pool.
They can also damage the teeth and cause the formation of brown tartar, a consequence of salivary proteins which, when in contact with water, decompose rapidly and form the tartar that gives a yellowish appearance to the teeth.
Importance Of Adding Chemicals To A Pool
Chemicals such as chlorine and bromine are added to pools to fight germs. Specialists argue that, without those substances, pools would be like a petri dish in which people would be exposed to all kinds of potentially harmful microbes.
“The immediate benefits of disinfection far outweigh any risk of long-term exposure,” said Lindsay Blackstock, a doctoral student in analytical and environmental toxicology at the University of Alberta in Canada.
And the real danger is not the pool chemicals themselves, but how they mix with other chemicals that people take into the water. Urine, along with personal hygiene products such as shampoos, body lotions, and conditioners, interacts with chlorine to create volatile organic compounds that can be harmful when breathed in.
10 Tips To Enjoy The Pool Without Risk
If you’ve been freaking out about everything that can happen if you take a dip, relax, experts report that by following a few simple prevention guidelines when you get out of the water you can fully enjoy swimming pools. These 10 tips will help protect you from the negative effects of chlorine:
- First of all, to prevent the chlorine in the pool from reacting with other substances such as creams or deodorants, it is essential to shower well before entering the water; this will remove the artificial substances from the body.
- When you get out of the pool, it is important to shower again to remove the remains of chlorine and to spread a layer of moisturizing cream on your body.
- If you have atopic dermatitis, it is advisable to use some kind of barrier cream or protective oil to waterproof the skin.
- Do not pee or spit in the pool because, as we have already said, these substances react chemically with chlorine, giving rise to chloramine, which irritates the eyes, nose, and throat.
- It is important to transmit these values to the little ones so that they can tell when they want to relieve themselves.
- To avoid conjunctivitis and ear infections, we recommend the use of diving goggles and earplugs to prevent water from entering the ear canal. Do not forget to remove contact lenses before entering the water, as they can be filled with bacteria and fungi.
- Avoid jokes in the water that trigger drowning, because it is very likely that the person will swallow water and may suffer gastrointestinal problems.
- It is not advisable to introduce water in the mouth; this treated liquid can damage the enamel, if it has a pH lower than 6, and create brown tartar if the exposure is prolonged.
- Avoid entering the pool water if you are sick, especially if you suffer from gastroenteritis, since the contagion may be greater.
- Wet bathing suits are a paradise for fungi; it is advisable to change them every time you get out of the water, to avoid the humidity that can cause vaginal infections.
Finally, if the person has colored hair, it is advisable to use a special product to protect it from the sun and from the action of copper sulfate, a substance that is added to the water to prevent fungus, which can cause the color of the hair to turn green.