Effects of Chlorine on frequent pool swimmers

Swimmer in pool

Chlorine is one of the most widely used chemical for disinfecting swimming pools. Plus it is usually quite effective in killing germs and other harmful bacteria that might pose health hazards’. But ironically so, chlorinated swimming pools are not always fully safe to use. There isn’t any serious risks involved but over-use of chlorine to purify pools and public venues like water amusement parks can cause health issues for people who frequent swimming pools several times a week. This is because when chlorine is added to contaminated or polluted water it reacts with these compounds which can have harmful effects on swimmers who are prone to prolonged exposure.

Skin Conditions

Sometimes the public pools or even private ones get over chlorinated especially during the spread of viral diseases. But acute chlorination in the pools might cause health threats. Regular swimmers might experience skin rashes, dryness and irritation in affected areas. Extreme alkaline pH which occurs due to high levels of chlorine in pools often causes burning sensation, flakiness and skin infections. Swimmers with prior skin conditions like eczema should take special care. Chlorine reactions may include itchiness, red skin or hives (itchy bumps). Usually thought of as an allergy to Chlorine however it is not an allergy but is an irritation to the chemical similar to a chemical burn, caused by hypersensitivity to this natural irritant. Chlorine is also drying to the skin and can irritate existing dermatitis.

Skin chemical reaction

Short-Term Irritation and Health Effects

Chlorinated water in the swimming pools often ingested by the swimmers. Due to this the harsh chemicals in the water along with chlorine result in short term health effects including nausea, vomiting, burning sensation in the throat, coughing and wheezing and chest pain. Some cases might even result in nose bleeds, shortness of breath and build of fluid in the lungs.

Lung Infections

These account for some serious health issues due to chlorinated water. People who spend a lot of time in the swimming pools such as trainers, professional swimmers’ or life guard’s might be at a greater risks for lung infections including bronchitis. The chlorine vapours if inhaled can also result in asthma and increase the chances of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Tooth Corrosion

Tooth corrosion is a more serious threat for swimmers who spend long hours in indoor pools. The low levels of chlorine might wear away the enamel which is the external protective layer of the teeth, causing corrosion and decay in the long run.

Hair Damage

One of the most common issues that frequent pool swimmers and swimming coaches face because of spending a lot of time in chlorinated water from pools is ending up with damaged hair. Frequent pool users should try to reduce the exposure of hair to chlorinated water by using a head cap and ensuring that they wash their hair before and after swimming. Applying natural oils like coconut oil can be very helpful in avoiding hair damage.


Swimmer wearing head cap

Possible Increased Cancer Risk

Chlorinated swimming pools are known to increase the risk of cancer in regular swimmers. While this is one of the more serious health issues, where there are ongoing research into the matter according to recent research high levels of chlorine in swimming pools might have an adverse effect on the swimmers body. This was based on the fact that professional swimmers had a higher of blood markers associated with cancer.


Given the above mentioned health issues that might put the swimmers at risk, it is important that steps should be taken to limit the chlorine exposure. More over chlorine vapours are more harmful when outside the pool because they are higher in concentration. Hence proper swimming gear, swimming goggles and caps should be used to avoid unnecessary contact. Plus it is also advisable to shower immediately after the swim to thoroughly wash off the residue which if left on might worsen the situation. And to avoid any of the health hazard including skin, throat and lung infections limit your exposure to chlorinated pools to remain safe and healthy.


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