We go to great lengths to remove chlorine (and other contaminants) from our drinking water and bath water, and it made me think about the effect of this common chemical in swimming pools and its How much exposure can affect us.
You don’t even have to swim in the pool to be exposed to some health hazards. Chlorine is also released from ponds and other sources of water.
Chloramine is a gas that smells like chlorine, and you’ve probably smelled it in hotels with indoor pools.
Sweat, sunscreen, urine and other chemicals and waste combine with chlorine to form chloramines. It is present in the air around oxidized chlorine gas and chlorinated ponds and other water sources. As you can imagine, this is especially a concern in indoor pools without ventilation, but it can also be a problem in outdoor pools.
Adverse effects of chloramines
A strong smell of chlorine is a good indication that there is chloramine in a pond. This strong gas can also cause symptoms such as coughing and burning in the bones. On more serious elimination, it can cause symptoms such as wheezing and even an increase in asthma symptoms.
The CDC states that:
Breathing irritants can increase the sensitivity to other types of itching such as cookies and bacteria.
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the dangers of chlorine. Their study of more than 800 children found that children with allergies or asthma had a significant effect on chlorine exposure. They also found that even children with allergies or asthma were exposed to long or regular exposure to chlorine.
what should we do?
Our whole family loves water, so swimming and not filtering our home water will eliminate the exposure to chlorine, I’m not quite ready to throw a baby out of the pool water!
Thankfully, there are some things that can be done to help minimize chlorine exposure.
- Avoid chlorinated ponds whenever possible. In many places there are options that use salt filters (although they still contain chlorine but in small amounts) or UV filters. In some places, there are often great places to swim outside. Obviously, not swimming in water sources that use chlorine is an easy way to reduce exposure. Thankfully, our local indoor pool uses salt and UV filters and no chlorine.
- Use vitamin C.Check out this great article and related lectures for a great background on how Vitamin C helps neutralize chlorine and eliminate the damage caused by chlorine exposure. Taking vitamin C (ascorbic acid) internally and extracting some kind of solution to rub on the skin can greatly reduce exposure. It turns out that they even make vitamin C shower filters that are very inexpensive and that decontaminate shower water. Since Vitamin C is often used in anti-aging serums, it is a win-win solution!
- Protect the skin: Providing a physical barrier to the skin with oil also helps to reduce exposure. I like to use homemade lotion and add vitamin C. It is great for the skin and protects against chlorine exposure (instructions below). One commenter pointed out that many public pools do not allow lotion on the skin before using the pool, so check the rules if you use public pools and if using the pool your own pool. Follow the pool instructions.
Do you have a pool?
If you have a pool and swim regularly, the effects of chlorine exposure may be even more pronounced. Thankfully, if you have a pool, you also have the ability to control the methods used and limit your chlorine exposure.
Many chlorine free filtration options are now available. If you are building a pond, you can start with one of them at the same cost as a regular chlorine pump and system. If you already have a pool, you can easily convert it into a chlorine-free system.
Chlorine free systems
Many places now offer UV-based systems that require minimal or no chlorine to operate. This system kills more than 99 bacteria by itself, so the amount of other chemicals can also be traced. Our approach is to use a UV filter and pump system and use food grade hydrogen peroxide as a protective net.
The purpose with hydrogen peroxide is to keep it at about 50 ppm. We use simple test strips to test and add about 1000 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide to 1000 gallons of water every two weeks.
The key note here is to use food grade 35% hydrogen peroxide. Items from the drugstore are only 3% and you will need all of them to shock the pool. 35% hydrogen peroxide is highly concentrated, so use caution when handling it, but it is completely safe once in the pool because it is so thin.
Not only is this the most natural way I’ve found, it’s really easy to use and balancing PHP is the only other factor we need to look at. It is also quite comparable in price to other methods.
If you swim in a pool that is not your own or cannot be converted to a chlorine-free system, something as simple as a dechlorination lotion may help. It can be helpful to take a shower with a vitamin C filter before and after swimming.
How To Make A DIY Dechlorinating Lotion
When we go swimming, we apply a lotion to the skin. (Go to the end of this post to find a simple sunscreen version that will do double duty.)
How to make lotion?
- Mix oil and wax in a pint size or large glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can reuse glassware with pickles, olives or other foods.
- In another small pot or bowl, add the vitamin C powder in warm water and stir until dissolved.
- Fill the medium saucepan with a couple of inches of water and place the pot with the oil inside the saucepan and turn on the medium heat.
- As the water heats up, the ingredients in the jar will begin to melt. Occasionally shake or stir to add. When all the ingredients are completely melted, add a small blender or food processor. (If using an immersion blender, place it in a container when it fits in the top of the jar.)
- With the blender or food processor turned on, slowly add the water / vitamin C mixture until mixed and emulsified.
- Place in an airtight glass jar.
- Use before swimming (after skin cleansing) to minimize chlorine exposure. This is deliberately a small consignment because no rescue is used and it will only happen once during the swimming season.
- Enjoy and be chlorine free!
Other options (no DIY required)
People who use sunscreen can add vitamin C powder to a pre-made sunscreen for both chlorine reduction and sun protection benefits at the same time.
Are you worried about exposure to chlorine? How can you avoid it?