Swimming is a great way to exercise and stay fit, it is a whole body workout. It is good to know though, why a chlorinated pool is not your best option. You see, the problem is not the chlorine itself, which is rapidly absorbed in your skin and inevitably disrupts your natural biochemistry. The much bigger issue is the production of chemical byproducts that are continually formed when chlorine interacts with organic materials in the pool. When chlorine reacts with organic pollutants it forms DBPs (disinfection byproducts). They are over 10,000 times more toxic than chlorine itself, for example. The organic materials that cross-react with chlorine to form DBPs include skin, dirt, dried sweat, hair, and urine. Lotions can also cause harmful chemical reactions.
A 2008 study in the Journal of Environmental Sciences concluded that swimming in a chlorinated pool presents “an unacceptable cancer risk”. Also, a 2009 study in Pediatrics concluded that chlorinated swimming pool attendance “contributes significantly to the burden of asthma and respiratory allergies in adolescents”. The American Journal of Epidemiology 2007 study found that participants who drank chlorinated water had a 35% greater risk of bladder cancer, and those who swam in chlorinated pools had a 57% greater risk. Several 2010 studies in EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives found that swimming in chlorinated pools may induce DNA damage that may lead to cancer. Keep in mind that you and your children are exposed to chlorinated tap water with DBPs every day, so putting an even bigger burden on the body can be a tipping point.
Personally, I never enjoyed swimming in a pool, even before I knew this information. I hated the way it made my skin and hair feel and indoor pools were just disgusting because I could not breathe. I do greatly enjoy swimming in natural habitats on ponds, lakes, and oceans. Swimming in the ocean actually has great benefits. Salt water kills parasites that may be living on your skin, it helps detoxify the body, and you actually absorb the beneficial minerals in salt water.
So if you can avoid public pools this summer, it is best for your health. If you have your own pool, there are actually alternatives to chlorine or you can use a minimal amount of chlorine and clean it often. Better yet, hit the beach or a local lake!