Swimming in outdoor chlorinated pools appears to increase the odds a child will develop asthma, Belgian researchers said.
Asthma, which affects more than 300 million people worldwide, is the most common pediatric chronic illness. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness.
Other studies have linked chlorine and asthma but the new findings cast doubt on the idea outdoor pools are safer than indoor ones where chlorine vapors remains trapped inside an enclosed space.
“The more you swim, the higher the risk,” said Alfred Bernard, a toxicologist at Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, who led the study. “What is new in this study is that we looked at outdoor pools for the first time.”
Bernard and colleagues showed that outdoor pools are just as or more risky than indoor ones because harmful vapors remain at the pool surface and do not drift away.
And because children tend to spend more time in pools they are more likely to swallow chlorinated water or ingest vapors containing chemicals that attack the cellular barriers protecting the lung from allergens, Bernard said.
“We see that the risk of the outdoor pool is equal and even higher than indoor pools because children tend to spend longer in outdoor pools and they are more chlorinated,” he said.
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