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July 22, 2019

The summertime is when everyone is looking for a fast way to cool off, but perhaps you might want to think twice before you opt for the chlorinated pool over natural sources like a fresh water lake or the mineral rich sea. Although chlorine is highly effective at killing pathogens in pool water there’s also a downside that could have negative effectives on your health.

It disrupts your skin’s microbiome.

Chlorine is a well-known chemical that has been linked to skin irritation, dryness, and it can even mess with the delicate balance of your skin’s microbiome.

It causes toxic reactions.

Even worse, there’s something called disinfection by-products (DBPs) which are the result of chlorine reacting with natural organic matter like saliva, hair, or sweat that have been linked to numerous diseases. DBPs can enter your body through skin absorption, ingestion, and inhalation. Studies also confirm that DBPs are higher when pools are packed because there’s more organic material for the chlorine to interact with.

It releases unhealthy gases into the air.

Specifically, chloramine, which is that characteristic “pool smell” is a gas created from chlorine and other common substances like sweat, sunscreens, and urine. Swimmers easily inhale this chemical because their noses are typically very close to the water and can lead to increased irritation and breathing problems.

It increases the risk of allergies and asthma.

The Journal of Pediatrics published a study that evaluated 847 students between the ages 13 and 18 who swam in indoor and outdoor chlorinated pools over a period of time compared to students who swam in non-chlorinated pools. The study found that the students who swam in the chlorinated pools had dramatically higher levels of both asthma and respiratory allergies.

It can cause dryness and skin irritation.

We also know that people with sensitive skin are more likely to develop something called chlorine rash, which can occur soon after swimming in a pool or after several days. Typical symptoms include dry skin, itchy red patches, burning or stinging, sores or blisters, and cracked skin that could bleed.

Here are some ways to reduce your exposure

  • Seek out non-chlorinated pools that use ionizers, ozonators, and salt.
  • If you’re near a chlorinated pool make sure it’s well ventilated.
  • Up your vitamin C and liver-friendly foods to support detoxification.
  • If you have the choice, always opt for natural water sources like lakes, rivers, ocean, or the sea.



Bernard, Alfred, et al. “Impact of Chlorinated Swimming Pool Attendance on the Respiratory Health of Adolescents.” Pediatrics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19752078.

Lubick, Naomi. “Swimming in Chlorine Byproducts.” Environmental Science & Technology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17969670/.

Bernard, Alfred, et al. “Con: Respiratory Risks Associated with Chlorinated Swimming Pools: a Complex Pattern of Exposure and Effects.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Mar. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21471056/.

Li, Jiang-Hua, et al. “Health Effects from Swimming Training in Chlorinated Pools and the Corresponding Metabolic Stress Pathways.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 5 Mar. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4351252/.

van Veldhoven, Karin, et al. “Effects of Exposure to Water Disinfection by-Products in a Swimming Pool: A Metabolome-Wide Association Study.” Environment International, Elsevier Science, Feb. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5786667/.

Florentin, Arnaud, et al. “Health Effects of Disinfection by-Products in Chlorinated Swimming Pools.” International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21885333.

Kim, Sae-Hoon, et al. “Chronic Low Dose Chlorine Exposure Aggravates Allergic Inflammation and Airway Hyperresponsiveness and Activates Inflammasome Pathway.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 9 Sept. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159271/.

Chen, Y Erin, et al. “Skin Microbiota-Host Interactions.” Nature, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 Jan. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075667/.

“Disinfection By-Products | The Safe Water System | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/safewater/chlorination-byproducts.html.

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