View Full Version : Chlorine Health Consequences

October 3rd, 2003, 06:24 PM
About a year and a half ago there was an excellent discussion on this forum (thread title: "Long Term Health Effects") on the topic of the possible ill effects of exposure to chlorinated water in pools.

Has any new information on this subject come forward since that time?

Several posters in the earlier thread theorized that showering before swimming will reduce chlorine absorbtion through the skin from pool water. Is this true? Are the skin pores "sealed" in some way by the tap water from the shower?

One general health "expert," who in other areas seems pretty sensible to me, warns against swimming in pools because "chlorine in most pools is rapidly absorbed through the skin and can contribute to major disruptions in your biochemistry."

This freaked me out a little.

Since most of us will probably keep swimming regardless, I am particularly interested in what one can do to reduce the risk.

Does showering pre-swim help?
Does a thorough post-swim anti-chlorine soap scrubbing help?
Would wearing a bodysuit while swimming help?

October 3rd, 2003, 06:32 PM
i find that nothing helps..even pre,post showering,even total shampooing afterwards.Ithink this is because the chlorine gets absorbed past the skin to hell knows where.If other users of the pool stopped ****ing in the pool perhaps chlorine rates could be reduced to a safer level

October 3rd, 2003, 06:41 PM
I believe I read some of that thread when it was originally posted... it scared me a little; however, one rule of thumb that I came across (it may have been on that thread), is if you can smell or taste chlorine, there is far TOO much chlorine in the h2o... When I started swimming here in sunny fla. after the u.k., I noticed that the pools at the various aquatic complexes here were really well maintained- in neither of them could I even tell that the water had been treated, the water was sooo clear and, well, fresh...

October 4th, 2003, 03:50 AM
It's not the pee,

That worries me.

It's the poo,

In the pool.

Seriously, I've noticed very few people do more than loosen the dirt in the shower before heading to the pool, so chlorination is a must.

Some chlorine may be absorbed, but as long as the pool isn't over chlorinated, and you don't drink the pool water, health problems from chlorine should be minimal, as long as the pool area is well ventilated.

October 4th, 2003, 07:26 PM
One swimming book claimed that chlorine doesn't soak in far enough to do real harm--it's all on the surface. Of course, that's scary enough--one alternative medicine guru claimed that chlorine in tap water is more likely to cause skin cancer than the sun.

Nancy Graham
October 5th, 2003, 09:05 PM
I wonder if I have an allergy to chlorine! After my early morning swim, my nose runs continuously, and I sneeze incessantly for many hours. I don't know if there is a way to avoid this, or if it is simply a propensity that I have in "breahing in" too much water into my nose.

Any thoughts on this?


October 6th, 2003, 05:46 AM
what about good, old fashioned antihistimines?

October 6th, 2003, 08:22 AM
What exactly does "major disruptions in your biochemistry" mean?

I've been swimming my whole life and other than green hair and dry skin, I seriously doubt there is any major health concerns. I imagine swimming in most rivers, lakes and beaches presents much more serious health threats.

October 6th, 2003, 08:56 AM
When I see the older masters swimmers, who are in very good shape, and have been swimming most of their lives, and compare them to the predominantly overweight, and hobbling population that is of the same age as the swimmers, I think--ok, whatever chlorine does, it's not nearly as bad as what not swimming does.

October 6th, 2003, 12:32 PM
Nancy Graham-

I think the earlier discussion I cited above had some posts from people who were also "allergic" in the way you describe.

If you swim at an indoor pool, you may also be reacting to breathing chlorine or other chemicals trapped in the air.

Some of the earlier posters also maintained that if the pool chemistry is properly adjusted and maintained you should not be knocked over by the chlorine odor at an indoor pool.

October 6th, 2003, 03:09 PM
I am one of the swimmers who believe it is the balance of the chemicals and the ventilation. I swam at at Y pool for many years with no trouble until they changed the ventilation system. Some days I was okay, on other days I would get about 300 yards into the workout and start having trouble breathing. I could stay and do the workout at a slower pace, but then I'd have problems for several days. One evening, I got out, did not change clothes just wrapped a towel around my waist, and went to another Y. I had no problem swimming at all. Since then, much to my regret, I have avoided my original Y.
Every once in awhile at a long meet I'll have trouble sitting around in the pool area all day. I'm okay swimming my races, but I find a place to wait for my events outside the pool area. I have asthma, but it is controlled by medication and being aware of the conditions in the pool.
Betsy Durrant

Phil Arcuni
October 6th, 2003, 03:33 PM
Sorry I picked up this thread so late -

Nancy, many people have the runny nose symptoms you describe, especially in some indoor pools. You can try chemical (drug) solutions, but the most simple solution is to use nose plugs. You get used to them pretty fast, and they work. I can't believe people would take strange chemicals, with who knows what side effects, before trying a mechanical and low cost solution.

Nancy Graham
October 6th, 2003, 10:41 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies. I have tried nose clips in the distant past, and felt quite "confined" by them. I do exhale out of my mouth and nose as well, and felt very uncomfortable with the clips. I may give them another try however, and see how I do with them. I have noticed that when I have swum in a different Y recently the problem is much reduced. My nose ran only slightly and for a short time. Unfortunately, this Y is not convenitent enough for me to use on a regular basis. So I am guessing the amount of chlorine must be the culprit. If I cannot adjust to the clips, I guess I will go the way of the drugs (I too am anti-drug except as a last resort).

Thanks again for your help.


October 9th, 2003, 01:56 AM
I used to have the runny nose/sneezing fits when I started swimming. I got a lot of relief by irrigating my nose with a saline nasal spray after the workout. You can purchase this at any drug store or make your own with a little water and salt. It cleans the chlorine out of the nasal cavity. Worked for me.