You know that swimming is good for you, right? While this was certainly considered true in the not so distant past, some researchers now say that you may have to adjust your views once you get all of the facts. In fact, the latest research says that your swimming habits can make a big difference in how your body reacts. This is because people who are around chlorinated pools on a regular basis can be at an increased risk of having an asthma attack.

The Chlorine Connection

Researchers have been increasingly interested in understanding asthma causes, including the connection to swimming pool chlorine, which is a man-made chemical that is frequently used to purify pool water.  According to the results of several recent studies, exposure to chlorinated pool water can increase or even cause asthma attacks. The reason is not actually the chlorine itself but a reaction that occurs when people sweat in the pool or even urinate in chlorinated water, creating a lung irritant. The result is that swimmers (or even those sitting around the pool) can find themselves experiencing wheezing and other asthma effects. In addition, in indoor pools, the risks of asthma symptoms seem to be worse than in outdoor settings.

Further, researchers from University College Cork (Ireland) looked at boys between the ages of 6 and 12 years old and found that the more number of years a participant had been swimming in an indoor pool, the worse his asthma was. Other studies also found similar effects when it comes to asthma causes, and further, reveal that the younger the swimmer is, the more he or she seems to be at risk for asthma symptoms caused by swimming pool chlorine.

While these points raises some disturbing connections for parents to consider, it is even more startling when you learn that the young male swimmers followed by researchers in Ireland had lung damage that was consistent with that of a regular smoker.

The Silver Lining

While the role chlorine plays in causing asthma may raise many concerns, it is also important to point out that there is one silver lining in the news: if you experience lung damage from breathing in a chlorine induced lung irritant in indoor spaces, when you stop the exposure to this substance, in many cases the damage will ultimately be reversed.

Understanding the Findings

Olympian swimmers seem to be particularly prone to asthma, but until the results of the latest studies were released, the cause and effect of the situation was not clear. Now, though, that there is more data that is helping to make sense of the connection, experts say that it is important for people who manage indoor pools to ensure the best ventilation systems are in place, to stress the importance of good hygiene among guests and to consider safer alternatives to chlorine for the future that will still ensure pool water stays clean with fewer risks.



This research appeared in the Irish Medical Journal. To access a summary of the findings, you can refer to a news article at

This comes from the results of a study conducted by Dr. Simone Carbonnelle of the industrial toxicology and occupational medicine unit at the Catholic University of Louvain. More information can be found at