A recent Belgian study, reported by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that children who use indoor swimming pools have an increased risk of asthma. The study was conducted by scientists at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
The researchers found that the prevalence of childhood asthma was closely associated to the number of indoor pools for every 100,000 people. They discovered that for each extra swimming pool per 100,000 people, asthma rates in an area go up by 2 to 3 percent. The team of scientists looked at rates for asthma and associated problems in a study of 180,000 children aged 13-14 from various European countries. The researchers believe this increase could be caused by chlorine build-up in indoor swimming pools.
The number of indoor pools varied greatly between Easter and Western Europe; ranging from one pool for every 50,000 inhabitants in Western Europe to one for every 300,000 inhabitants in Eastern Europe. The findings revealed a clear East-West divide in indoor pool availability and rates of asthma.
The Belgian study, presented by Dr. Simone Carbonnelle, showed that exposure to chloramines greatly increases permeability of the lung epithelium. This is a condition that is associated with cigarette smoking. Chlorine by itself isn’t the problem; it’s what happens when chlorine is combined with organics. The organics are produced by pool users in the form of sweat, dander, urine, etc. The chlorine reacts with these organics, producing dangerous chemicals such as nitrogen trichloride, aldehydes, chloroform and chloromines.
According to Dr. Carbonnelle, the level of lung permeability is equivalent of what she would see in a heavy smoker. “These findings suggest that the increasing exposure to chlorine-based disinfectants used in swimming pools and their by-products might be an unsuspected risk factor in the rising incidence of childhood asthma and allergic diseases”, reports Dr. Carbonnelle.
This research may help explain why swimmers in indoor pools are more prone to asthma than athletes in other sports. During the 2000 Olympic Games held in Australia, it was revealed that more than one-quarter of the U.S. Swim Team suffered from some degree of asthma.
An effective way to combat this problem is with a good quality, high efficiency indoor swimming pool dehumidifier. The dehumidifier removes the chlorine along with the moisture laden air. The HI-E Dry line of swimming pool dehumidifiers features remarkable energy efficiency.