Supplement Feature - February 2010
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Serve & Protect

Aquatic Safety & Staffing

By Richard Zowie

Chlorinated Pools & Respiratory Health

Is it ever too early to let kids swim in chlorinated pools? Researchers from Belgium's Catholic University of Louvain's Department of Public Health looked into this. The team, which included medical doctor Antonia Sardella, doctors of philosophy Alfred Bernard and Marc Nickmilder and Catherine Voisin (who holds a master of science degree), did research to estimate the burden of allergic diseases associated with chlorinated pool exposure among adolescents.

Eight hundred forty-seven students ranging from 13 to 18 years of age were tested. They attended outdoor or indoor chlorinated pools at various rates. Of these, 114 attended mainly a copper-silver pool and served as the reference group. The team of researchers found that various respiratory disorders (such as hay fever, asthma and allergic rhinitis) were more likely among the adolescents who swam in the chlorinated pools. Specifically, those with atopy (a genetic tendency to develop allergies like hay fever, asthma and dermatitis) were at a greater risk of getting hay fever after more than 100 hours in a chlorinated pool and a greater risk of allergic rhinitis with more than 1,000 hours of swimming in these pools. These associations, the researchers noted, were not found among adolescents who don't have atopy or who swam in the copper-silver pools.

Their conclusion: chlorinated pool exposure "exerts an adjuvant effect on atopy that seems to contribute significantly to the burden of asthma and respiratory allergies among adolescents."

Their results were published September 2009 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Lachocki noted, though, that indoor pools have standards for temperature, humidity, air turnover and other requirements dictated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standards.

"Good water chemistry helps ensure good air quality," he explained. "Thus, proper disinfectant levels, pH and water balance remain important at all times."