This summer my baby sister (who is 18 months old) started taking swimming lessons at an indoor swimming pool. I think that all children should take swimming lessons – you never know when they’ll need those skills, and swimming is great exercise – but parents also need to be aware of the health risks associated with indoor pools. Chlorine byproducts contaminate the air above indoor swimming pools and have been linked to lung damage, asthma, and cancer. Indoor pools also increase humidity, which can lead to mold growth.
According to swimming.about.com, chlorinated indoor swimming pools can cause asthma, and swimmers using indoor swimming pools are more likely to develop asthma. Chlorine reacts with organic chemicals to form dangerous chemicals like nitrogen trichloride, aldehydes, halogenated hydrocarbons, chlorogorm, thrihalomethanes, and chloramines.
Trihalomethanes (THMs) are known carcinogens that have been linked to increased incidences of bladder and colon cancer, as well as miscarriages and stillbirths.
Chloramines increase the permeability of the lung epithelium. This same condition is associated with smoking cigarettes, and it makes breathing more difficult.
Dr. Simone Carbonnelle of the University of Louvain in Brussels has studied the effect of chlorine byproducts on the lungs and concludes: “Findings suggest that the increasing exposure to chlorine-based disinfectants used in swimming pools and their byproducts might be an unsuspected risk factor in the rising incidence of childhood asthma and allergic diseases.”
Chlorine byproducts are most concentrated in the air at the surface of the pool, and they’re most dangerous to young children. If you utilize an indoor pool, make sure that’s it’s well ventilated. Airflow above the surface of the pool helps to disperse the dangerous chemicals.
As a good rule of thumb, if you can smell a strong odor of chlorine, or if you experience a skin rash, irritated eyes, or difficulty breathing, then the indoor air at the pool is probably not safe to breathe.
High humidity levels created by indoor swimming pools are another cause for concern. Humid environments encourage the growth of mold, which is a powerful allergen and can damage building materials.
If you have an indoor pool, it’s best to cover it when you’re not using it. The moisture that evaporates from chlorinated pools is particularly corrosive; it can deteriorate cement blocks, mortar joints and bricks, metal, and wood.
Indoor pool dehumidifiers represent the best solution to moisture problems. Dehumidifying the air is the most cost-effective way to get rid of unwanted moisture. These special dehumidifiers for indoor pools can be ducted to carry the corrosive condensation away from the pool area.