Do you know that swimming pools contain more than 200 unknown chemicals that can damage your health?
02/04/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

Swimming pools seem to be the perfect summer hang-out: They can help you cool off on a hot day and everyone can join in, even if they're not strong swimmers. The kids can play in wading pools, as long as the adults keep a close eye on them. However, not many people are aware that drowning isn't the only danger that you're exposed to when you're in swimming pools. In fact, the chlorine in the water reacts with organic matter and produces harmful chemicals.

What are disinfection byproducts (DBPs)?

Before you dip your toes in a swimming pool, learn what you can regarding water quality so you can avoid potential health problems. For example, competitive swimmers often suffer from breathing problems because they are constantly exposed to toxic air and water training environments.

A typical swimming pool will always contain small amounts of dirt, leaves, and other organic debris from the environment. Once people start swimming in a pool, skin cells, sweat, urine, and other materials from their body are also added to the water.

The chlorine, which reacts with organic materials, produces chemicals called disinfection byproducts (DBPs). Chloramines, a category of DBP, include trichloramines, which are very harmful to your health. DBPs are associated with health problems like allergic reactions, asthma, bladder cancer, and respiratory diseases.

Chloramines are specifically linked to:

Digestive and gastric problems

  • The aggravation of digestive disorders.
  • Damage to digestive mucosa.

Skin and eye problems

  • The aggravation of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Skin problems (e.g., severe skin reactions like bleeding; a chapping, burning sensation; cracking and scarring; itchy flaking; rashes; or welts and blistering).
  • Bleeding lips, dry mouth, and dry throat.
  • Burning, red, and dry eyes.

Human skin tends to absorb materials that it comes in contact with. As your skin absorbs small amounts of pool water, it is also exposed to 200 unknown chemicals in the water. These chemicals are then deposited into your bloodstream and tissues.

Simply inhaling the air directly over pool water is hazardous to your health. Take note that the area at least one foot above pool water is "a zone filled with trichloramines." Even if you're using a pool mattress or raft, you can still be exposed to dangerous DBPs. Breathing in trichloramines may irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. (Related: Everyday habits that may be damaging your eyes.)

How can you avoid the health risks linked to pool water?

If you have a backyard pool, these tips may help you avoid the health hazards linked to pool water:

  1. Clean your pool regularly. Always remove visible organic materials, like leaves and twigs, from the pool.
  2. Don't spend too much time in your pool to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals.
  3. Minimize chemical use. Use the minimum amount of pool chemicals necessary to maintain water cleanliness.
  4. Sit next to the pool instead of floating on an air mattress in the water.
  5. Rinse your eyes and skin immediately after exposure to pool water.

Follow these steps to eliminate DBPs and prevent them from being absorbed excessively into your skin and bloodstream.

Keep in mind that both children and older people are at a higher risk of developing health issues because of the reduced capacity of their immune systems. People with a disease that involves compromised immune function are also at risk of such health issues caused by exposure to DBPs. If your loved ones belong to these groups, limit the time they spend in pool water or advise them to avoid it completely.

Visit to read more articles about harmful chemicals like DBPs and how to avoid them.

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