While some liked to dance, exercise, aerobics, and all other sports, I have always been drawn to the waters. If it weren’t for that knack for self-preservation, I might have been a fan of surfing. I love the smell of chlorine and the serenity that surrounds a pool when you’re about to dive in and run around. For me, it had to be swimming or nothing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been that kid ready to jump on those speedos and dive into the pool. My parents hoped puberty would rescue me from my insanity, but I was literally in love with this beautiful sport and nothing could change that.
For a long time, I plunged into the pool without realizing the dangers that lurked in the water. Chlorine. In fact, I came to like the smell and completely ignored the risks it poses to my health and to the health of so many swimmers.
But is it really wise to ignore those risks?
WHAT NORMALLY THEY DO NOT TELL US ABOUT CHLORINE IN THE POOLS.
For all its virtues, such as the sanitation that it contributes to water, even with all bodies and all the unhealthy elements that it contributes, chlorine also exposes us to possible damage. When chlorine comes in contact with organic materials, such as urine and sweat, it forms a very dangerous compound called chloramine. Recent research indicates that this chemical is responsible for a host of fairly common health problems among swimmers and pool workers.
What kinds of health hazards am I talking about? Well, they are quite a lot.
1. Itchy skin, itching and even eczema and cancers
Although the less serious effects of chloramine and other dangerous compounds are skin dryness, rushing and eczema, studies carried out by the Barcelona Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology indicate that excessive exposure to chlorinated water also causes an increase in blood markers that have been associated with cancer.
2. Eye infections
One of the most common and obvious effects of chlorine is irritation to our eyes. Most people leave chlorinated pools with reddened eyes. In fact, more than a third of the defects related to chlorinated pools are those related to the eyes.
3. Hair damage
The Pacific Center for Health said that chlorine can actually destroy much-needed proteins in our bodies. As a side effect, our hair can become unmanageable and colored hair can be completely ruined. Unfortunately, I have been an unconscious test subject of this theory, and yes, it is quite accurate …
4. Reproductive disorders
Although it is practically waterproof, the skin can absorb various chemicals from water, including some of the dangerous compounds of chlorine. These chemicals pass into small blood vessels and tissues and have been linked to reproductive problems, as well as possible birth defects.
5. Respiratory diseases
These are especially common when chlorinated pools are indoors. The toxic gases that surround the pool can cause serious damage to the lungs, which can lead to respiratory problems or even asthma. Although these toxic gases can be harmful at any age, they pose a greater risk to older people and children.
Asthmatic swimmers are at greater risk when swimming indoors, but even those who have never had asthma can develop some of its symptoms.
6. Other alleged problems
Preliminary studies conducted at European research facilities seem to indicate that chlorine and its most dangerous by-products can also cause epiglottis, cardiovascular defects, liver and kidney cancer, as well as neurological dysfunctions, among others.
However, the results of these studies are still in their infancy and it may take some time to reach a final conclusion.
WHY THEN DO WE USE CHLORINE?
After discovering how dangerous chlorine is, I asked myself. The simple answer is that chlorine meets all the requirements. It keeps the pool almost 100% sterile by eliminating bacteria that get into the water. It also addresses the problem of algae build-up, which is quite common in water. Its oxidation effect also ensures that organic waste does not accumulate in the pool. Chlorine is also a very cheap chemical.
CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES WHILE SWIMMING?
Did I scare you yet? I certainly hope not, because there are simple ways to protect yourself.
Let’s take a look at them!
1. Swim outdoors.
First of all, you should always make sure to avoid swimming in pools covered with chlorine. This is very dangerous, as the toxic gases associated with chlorine can cause serious breathing problems, such as asthma. Whenever possible, swim outdoors, where most toxic gases are released into the air.
When you go swimming in chlorinated water, always make sure you are sufficiently hydrated. This can be done by drinking chlorine-free filtered water before going swimming. In this way, your eyes will keep their moisture and will be able to produce the tears necessary to reject bacteria and toxic chemicals.
3. Shower before swimming
As I already mentioned, chlorine itself is not necessarily harmful, but when it reacts with ammonia in sweat it forms a rather dangerous by-product called chloramine. Showering before swimming will remove sweat and prevent chloramine from forming on the skin.
Some people say that even small amounts of chlorine in our daily showers can damage the skin and hair of a regular swimmer. If you are concerned about this possibility, you can go the extra mile and install a shower filter to remove most of these chemicals.
Also, getting your hair wet will make it harder for chlorinated water to break through and damage it.
4. Shower after swimming
Do not allow chlorine to remain on your skin for long periods after you have finished swimming. Make sure to shower after swimming to remove all traces of chlorine.
Keep in mind that a simple shower will not remove chlorine as effectively as a vitamin C shower, which is believed to remove up to 99% of chlorine and chloramine.
5. Avoid chlorinated pools
Yes, I know it is difficult, as chlorine is still a widely used chemical in most public swimming pools.
However, when you have the option, opt to swim in open water or in pools disinfected by other means, such as ozonizers and ionizers.
6. Breathe fresh air
Always give yourself time to clear your airways by exposing yourself to fresh air after being exposed to chlorine. Don’t just get out of the pool and into the house. Take the time to breathe.
7. Use moisturizers
There are many waterproof sun creams and lotions that can be used to prevent your skin from being damaged due to overexposure to chlorine.
Topical vitamin C creams have been found to be very effective in neutralizing chlorine.
Also, here you can find instructions on how you can make your own cream or lotion that provides a dechlorinating effect. The ingredients are very common, so it should be easy to prepare.
8. Buy a shower cap to protect your hair
This may not sound like that much, but wearing a shower cap can and will protect your hair from irreparable breakage. I had this problem myself and believe me, it’s not pretty. I’ve always been a very stubborn kid and completely hated swim caps as they always seemed to hurt my ears. Even so, after being forced to use all kinds of oils to repair my hair, I reluctantly started using them.
So my advice is to wear a cap that is tight enough to stay on your head, but not so tight that your ears or head hurt.
9. Buy swimming goggles to protect your eyes
A pair of swimming goggles should be the only accessory that is always in your backpack when you go swimming. It does not even matter if the water is chlorinated or not, since chlorine is not the only substance that can damage the eyes. In fact, every time you open your eyes underwater, you run the risk of irritating them or even getting an infection.
As an added benefit, the goggles will allow you to see clearly underwater and avoid accidents and unwanted bumps.
For detailed information on how to choose the perfect pair of glasses based on your preferences and needs, you can download our detailed e-book on this topic from our website. Whether or not the effects of chlorine outweigh its benefits will be left to an opinion. The truth is that you and I must take care of ourselves. If no one wants it, we should protect our own health.
Swiminent is a business that started with two brothers who are passionate about swimming. This same passion led them to create their own line of swimming goggles, renowned for their comfortable fit, now under the name Vipers. For more information on Swiminent and the Vipers, visit their website at http://www.swiminent.com.