It is not my intention to scare, or even suggest you stop using chlorine in your swimming pool. But there are health risks that require mitigating.
First I talk about some of the health effects and risks, and then I mentioned ways to reduce or even eliminate those concerns. By the end, You will understand the negative health effects of chlorine, and how you can prevent them.
Even though there are many negative health effects associated with using chlorine, the majority of swimming pools in the United States are using it as their primary means of sanitation.
Studies show an increased risk of developing breathing problems such as asthma and even link chlorine to bladder cancer. The former concerns may result from drinking chlorine, absorbing high doses of it, or by breathing Chloramines while at the pool.
I don’t know about yours, but my kids would spend the whole day playing in the pool.
The CDC and EPA consider Drinking water to be safe with chlorine levels as high as 4ppm. However, public pools are required to maintain minimum levels from 3-5 PPM. And are frequently found at levels higher than 8ppm. Spa at levels higher than 10 PPM. this makes public pools and spa’s a serious concern.
Most residential swimming pools maintain chlorine levels of 1-3 PPM. This would be considered safe if people were not constantly super shocking their pools and accidentally overdosing with chlorine to prevent algae.
If you have never lost your breath or stung your eyes opening a bucket of chlorine tablets. Know now to always do it in a well ventilated area. The concentrated gas is very powerful.
The first health risk doesn’t even require you to be in the pool. Chloramines are a gas you have probably smelled before (smells like chlorine). This gas is produced by chlorine combining with sweat, sunscreens, germs and urine or other waste in the pool. Chlorine oxidizes as it sanitizes into a gas, and it is especially dangerous for indoor pools with poor ventilation.
Chloramines can cause symptoms such as coughing, and more serious symptoms like wheezing and aggravating asthma. According to the CDC (center for disease control): “breathing of irritants may increase sensitivity to other types of irritants such as fungi and bacteria”.
Another study: Increased Asthma cases based on hours spent in chlorine swimming pool. Article: Impact of Chlorinated Swimming Pool Attendance on the Respiratory Health of Adolescents
Bladder Cancer Risk – Health Effects Of Chlorine
I have read a number of studies that link the use of Chlorine to sanitize drinking water to increased risk of bladder cancer. In this study by the Oxford Journal Of Medicine they also speak about swimming pool absorption as a risk.
Lowering Exposure & Lowering Risk
Chlorine In Drinking Water
There are studies that prove a safer level of chlorine. Studies show drinking water with chlorine levels under .05 ppm are safer than higher doses.
I test my drinking water yearly and have an under the sink reverse osmosis filter in my kitchen. So I refuse to drink any level of chlorine
Showering before getting into the pool will remove sweat, dirt, and germs, this will reduce the risk of Chloramine exposure
Also showering immediately after you exit the pool will reduce your chlorine
If you swim in an indoor pool, make sure there is ventilation or and exhaust fan. If possible open some doors and windows. When opening your pool for the season, consider adding chlorine last. Pools that have been closed for the winter usually are dirty and contain algae. By waiting to add the chlorine, you don’t have to be around the pool as it sanitizes and emits Chloramines.
You need to shock your pool properly with enough new chlorine to kill chloramines. The only other way to reduce chloramines is through water replacement. Shocking, otherwise known as super-break point chlorination, requires more than throwing in a little shock every now and then. It requires a measurable dose to do it properly. Use our free calculator to see if your pool needs shocking click here.
Alternatives To Using Chlorine In Swimming Pools
UV Ultra Violet Light Systems
By using an inline Ultra Violet (UV) system to sanitize your pool water you can reduce the need for chlorine and dangerous chemicals altogether. UV systems were used in the Beijing Olympics, and they kill germs and bacteria the same as chlorine without the health risks.
UV systems stabilize your PH also reducing the need for Muriatic acid when lowering PH.
Ozone Pool Systems
Ozone pool systems are my favorite way to sanitize swimming pools. They are the easiest to maintain, cost the least, and the only byproduct is oxygen.
Ozone systems have been around forever but change happens painfully slow in the swimming pool industry.
Remember that UV and Ozone Systems cannot be used in isolation without another sanitizer as they only sanitize the water that passes by. You need something “available” to kill germs immediately in the pool water . To be chlorine free you would have to use Monopersulfate as a supplement sanitizer.
Mineral Pool Systems
The Frog and D-Nature II are a couple manufacturers of mineral systems. They make erosion feeders with mineral cartridges. Water passes through the mineral cartridge which has copper and other elements to help reduce the amount of chlorine that is required.
Nickel and copper are two elements known to prevent algae growth.
There is a new system called Oxygen Pools that use Ozone and a Monopersulfate and mineral formula that makes an excellent total chlorine free system.