Chlorinated Pools May Pose Cancer Risk

The health affects of <"">chlorine are making headlines for their potential links to increased risks of <"">cancer in bathers according to research conducted at Barcelona’s Center of Research in Environmental Epidemiology and Research Institute Hospital del Mar (CREAL), said the Mother Nature Network (MNN). The study appears in Environmental Health Perspectives, a U.S. journal.

The team studied mutagenicity changes, which relate to the “permanent mutation of the DNA,” explained MNN, “in a group of swimmers in an indoor, chlorinated pool.” In a statement released by CREAL, it said that, “The evidence of genotoxic effects were observed in 49 healthy adults after swimming for 40 minutes in a chlorinated indoor pool.” The team found indicators that point to increased cancer risks in both healthy participants and participants with a potential for respiratory reactions as a result of using chlorine as a disinfectant, explained MNN.

Manolis Kogevinas, the co-director of CREAL, noted that these results should not deter people from swimming, pointing out that benefits can be enjoyed if the Toxic Substance is reduced. “The positive health impacts of swimming can be increased by reducing the levels of these chemicals,” he said, quoted MNN.

“In no case do we want to stop swimming, but to encourage the reduction of chemicals in swimming pools,” said Kogevinas, who pointed out that the health affects of chlorine could be reduced if “swimmers showered before taking a dip, wore bathing caps, and refrained from urinating,” explained MNN.

The issue of chlorinated pools and cancer also points to links between respiratory illness and chlorine. The results do send a message to industry that, ”the positive effects of swimming could be increased by reducing the chemicals,” quoted WebMD previously. Both industry and science agree. “It’s good that research is being done in this area,” said Thomas Lachocki, CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization, said WebMD.

According to Kogevinas, ”We have been doing research on chemicals in water—not swimming pools [specifically]—for quite some time,” quoted WebMD. Kogevinas and his team recently switched their focus, in earnest, on indoor swimming pool water. ”Chemicals are produced when you put chlorine in water,” said Kogevinas, pointing out that chlorine reacts to urine and cosmetics, both found in swimming pools, for example, said WebMD.

Last year we wrote that a study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (May 15) found that swimming pool chemicals have been linked to thousands of hospital emergency room visits. HealthDay News reported that the trend has been seen in recent years.

Chlorine exposure, at low levels, can cause nose, throat, and eye irritation. At higher levels, breathing rate changes, coughing takes place, and lung damage occurs, explained the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In some, an inflammatory reaction can result—reactive airways dysfunction syndrome or RADS—which is a type of asthma that originates from corrosive substances. Also, chlorine-containing molecules have been implicated in the devastation to the upper atmosphere’s ozone layer.

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