Lifewatch: Chlorine and allergies

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Splashing around in pools is a fun activity for a lot of kids, but a new study suggests that chlorinated pools could increase the risk of asthma and allergies in children.

"The chlorine is chemicals, so if you drink it, with his sickness, I don't know what would happen," said Anne-Rose Orelien whose son has sickle-cell anemia.  "As for the salt water.. Everything he eats is with salt."

The research, headed up by a toxicology professor in Brussels, took a look at more than 800 teen swimmers. They found that kids who spent more than 1,000 hours in a chlorinated pool, and who were already susceptible to asthma and allergies were at risk.

The study found that kids who swam in chlorinated pools, instead of chlorine free pools were 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and allergies.

A salt water pool is one alternative to chlorine pools.  Experts say salt water pools are easier on the eyes and cause less irritation to skin.

"I think a lot of people choose to come for swimming lessons here, not only because of the caliber of our swimming lessons, but because of the salt water pool," said Ilanit Shapiro.

The problem isn't the chlorine, but what chlorine turns into when combined with organics. The organics are contributed by bathers in the pool in the form of sweat, dander, urine and other organics.

An allergist with Children's Hospital said chlorine does pose a risk to competitive swimmers or people who swim everyday, but this study shouldn't worry the average parent whose children swim a couple times a week.