Do you know the potential dangers of chlorine and asthma? On the Safety Blog, we’ve written extensively about the proper use of pool chemicals. In particular, chlorine has received a strong focus. After all, crystal clear, well-maintained water is gorgeous to look at and helps to keep swimmers safe from germs. That said, are there dangers when it comes to chlorine and asthma sufferers?
Understanding the Basics of Chlorine
In a nutshell, chlorine helps to keep your water clean by preventing slime, algae and other potential hazards from accumulating in the pool. It kills bacteria and germs, and controls any organic debris that can get in the water, such as sweat or body oils. When used in the proper amounts, it is a common and effective way to keep your swimming environment healthy and beautiful.
Potential Risks and Hazards
Of course, chlorine isn’t without risks. For starters, too much chlorine can hurt your eyes. This is a pain many of us have probably experienced during our lives. Too much of this chemical can dry your eyes out. Eyes are protected by a thin layer of tears, often called tear film. While swimming, chlorine can dissipate this protective barrier, leaving our eyes exposed.
Additionally, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, it is possible to be allergic to chlorine. In fact, we’ve already written a detailed article about allergies and chlorine. The potential dangers of chlorine and asthma are nothing to ignore either.
Let’s focus on the dangers of the combination of chlorine and asthma, which is similar to an allergic reaction. Asthma is a rather common condition in which a person’s airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus. A flare-up can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and more.
For some people, occasional minor asthma attacks can be annoying, but nothing serious. For others, a severe asthma attack can be life threatening. As of today, there is not a cure for asthma, but the symptoms can be controlled.
Overall, asthma is a serious danger that is increasing with each passing year. This is especially true for children. The number of children diagnosed with asthma has quadrupled in the past two decades. To learn more about asthma and its symptoms, read this informative article from the Mayo Clinic.
The Dangers of Chlorine and Asthma
Since asthma can affect the breathing, it is crucial for sufferers to avoid toxins and hazards whenever possible. Unfortunately, new studies show that the dangers of chlorine and asthma may be a tricky mix for swimmers.
Chlorine levels in both the air and the water may cause breathing problems in swimmers with asthma. When chlorine is at work in your pool, it ends up creating disinfection byproducts. These byproducts are the reason for that common “heavy chlorine smell.” Jumping into the water can transfer these disinfection byproducts to our bodies.
For people with asthma, swimming in a chlorinated pool can be hazardous. These byproducts can trigger allergies or even an asthma attack. So yes, it pays to know the dangers of chlorine and asthma.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that chlorine should never be used. The dangers can be reduced with proper pool maintenance and personal awareness. Keep the chlorine levels of the pool as low as possible. This should maintain the clear water, but minimize the use of potentially harmful chemicals. Children and adults with asthma should limit their exposure. Spending less time in and near the water is a smart choice. To further mitigate the risk of chlorine and asthma, consider switching to a saltwater pool.