September 15, 2009

Chlorine Increases Chances Of Allergies

Swimming in a chlorinated pool may increase a child's chances of experiencing problems with asthma and allergies, according to a new study.

Writing in Monday's issue of the journal Pediatrics, Alfred Bernard, a toxicology professor at Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, and colleagues, noted that children who spend over 1,000 hours in chlorinated pools were eight times more at risk of having asthma than children who spent time in pools which used other chemicals.

"This is an important factor, which might explain the epidemic of the disease in countries like Canada "¦ where you have a lot of swimming pools, indoors or outdoors," said Bernard, whose team studied 847 teens between the ages of 13 and 18.

All of the study's participants spent time swimming in indoor and outdoor swimming pools, while 114 swam in pools with a copper-silver disinfectant.

"These new data clearly show that by irritating the airways of swimmers chlorination products in water and air of swimming pools exert a strong additive effect on the development of asthma and respiratory allergies such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis," said Bernard.

"The impact of these chemicals on the respiratory health of children and adolescents appears to be much more important -- at least by a factor of five -- than that associated with secondhand smoke," he added.

Researchers found that "sensitive" adolescents who swam in chlorinated pools were between 3 and 6 times as likely to suffer from hay fever symptoms.

"It is probably not by chance that countries with the highest prevalence of asthma and respiratory allergies are also those where swimming pools are the most popular," Bernard told Reuters Health.


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