View Full Version : Unhealthy Indoor Pool Air?

October 8th, 2003, 01:14 PM
I started swimming workouts at a new indoor pool recently. They use a different type of chlorine/disinfectant system (the water tastes a bit salty), and I don't know how much ventilation they have. I've developed a cough at the end of each workout. And after working out yesterday evening, my lungs HURT a lot when I woke up this morning (they felt like they did on smoggy days in Southern California when I was a kid). I haven't had this problem at any other pool I've swum in--indoor and outdoor.

Have any other folks here heard of or experienced lung pain/injury and coughing being caused by indoor pool air or particular types of chlorine? Thanks.

Tom Ellison
October 8th, 2003, 02:08 PM
Yes, been there, done that! See if you can get your coach to open a side door or something along that line. I swam in a rec. center built in the mid 70's (for 4 to 5 years) and the coach knew the drill regarding bad gas build up. He would open the side door each morning which made the bad gas build up a non-issue.
Good luck, & I hope your pool has a side door because that cough can be a serious beat.

October 8th, 2003, 04:44 PM
yes, opening the window helps a lot! and in the winter the cool air feels really good.

when i was doing club swimming i had a meet at Ft. Eustis and they were using old chlorine test kits. Well the results kept showing that there wasn't enough chlorine in the pool so they kept dumping more and more in. All the people in the building with asthma and some others wound up spending the night at the hospital. It was horrible on top of the fact that the pool had the coldest water i have ever swam in.

Awhile ago when the pool i was training at wouldn't allow us to open any of the sliding glass doors that surround the pool :( i went to my family doctor and told him i was having some lung/breathing problems and he prescribed me some inhalers, which i used on an as needed basis. so you could try that too.

October 8th, 2003, 05:31 PM
i think the ventilation is pretty good at the facility i use,the roof is 60ft+and the vent shafts are in abundance,check to see if the ventilation is good at your pool,maybe the fans need servicing(chlorine rots electric motors more rapidly than air,i've electrically tested the leisure centre i use as i work for the local electrical contractor)all the light fittings were rotten too and had to be replaced.By the way in the chlorine"mixer " room next to the boiler house there was an emergency gas mask and smock in case of accidental spillage of the chlorine so i guess that it is more dangerous than officials let on.get a gas test done too.

October 8th, 2003, 06:19 PM
Chlorine gas is deadly if you breathe enough of it. My father who is a chemical engineer was taken to the hospital with significant breathing problems after a tank car transporting chlorine gas leaked and he was exposed to it. I think I remember this from my high school chemstry: A way to test if there is any significant amount of the gas in the air is to spritz some ammonia into the air, if there is a white cloud will form briefly.

I've heard that there is a new system which passes ozone through the water. Anyone out there have experience with that?

October 8th, 2003, 08:51 PM
Ask them if the pool is being kept clean with bromine. It's very rare to be allergic to this chemical, but there's a slight chance that you might be having a reaction. (Bromine is a very popular alternate to chlorine. Mostly because of the unnoticeable smell.)

October 9th, 2003, 12:52 PM
Okay pool chemistry 101:

Laineybug - you are right about the ammonia forming a white cloud if chlorine gas is present. In regards to ozone it is a supplemental system - as far as I know no pool in the US is totally sanitized by ozone. We have an ozone system for our pools but still use chlorine. The simple reason is you don't want ozone in your swimming pool where people can be exposed to it (You think chlorine is bad) so the ozone is injected into the pool water in your mechanical room, where it is highly reactive towards anything bad in your water and then anything left is filtered out before the pool water is returned to your pool. We keep a small amount of chlorine in the pool to disenfect the pool water rather than waiting for the pool water to be circulated into the mechanical room (if a child peed in the pool, the chlorine would take care of it, instead of water for the contaminated water to be circulated to the ozone system). The good thing about ozone is it also takes care of the chloramines (sometimes called combined chlorine) - this is what chlorine becomes when it reacts with something, it is the chloramines that you smell,burns your eyes, etc. not chlorine which is odorless. Other disenfectants that are used, bromine as mentioned also iodine and ionization of salts. The other thing than can also cause problems which is overlooked is the water pH to low of a pH and yopur water is acidic (this happens when gas chlorine is used, so something usually caustic soda which has a high pH is added to counter this) to high of a pH and your water becomes a base or caustic (liquid and most dry chlorine cause this) so some kind of acid is added - we use CO2 gas (ie carbonated water). Ideally a pools pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6 any lower than 7.0 or higher than 7.8 can cause skin irritations.
Pool ventalation is important - when chlorine reacts with something it creates a gas - this gas if not ventilated will build up and is an irritant (chloramines) - which as you know irritates the eyes well it will also irritate other membranes in the body (lung, throat etc.). What to do about ventilation - talk to someone experienced in HVAC systems there are guidelines in regards to air turnover rate (how long it takes the ventilating system to theoretically move the amount of air contained in a building - I believe in Oregon we have a 4 to 6 hour turnover rate by code, but not positive).


October 9th, 2003, 06:50 PM
I have to disagree that "It's very rare to be allergic to this chemical." (bromine)
There are lots of web sites that detail the problems caused by exposure to bromine and I can tell you from personal experience that it's not very pleasant. When I coached a swim team, I had serveral kids who got reactions. It really doesn't seem to be that uncommon.

October 16th, 2003, 04:30 PM
Thanks for the information and help. The pool uses chlorine--and reeks of it! I can smell it through a wall separating the pool from an office space. I spoke with the aquatics director at the pool and she gave me two suggestions: (1) drink plenty of water when working out (yes, but how does that prevent me from breathing in chlorine), and (2) make sure you stand up fully in the shallow end when you are resting between sets. The worst air apparently is right above the surface of the water. I followed these suggestions last time, and my lungs didn't hurt "as much," but I don't think they should hurt at all!!!!!