Swimming pools are summer vacation icons. Whether it was playing Marco Polo with my eyes closed, psyching myself up to jump off the high dive, or waiting through the agony of adult swim, as soon as I get a whiff of that chlorine smell, I immediately think back to those gloriously hot, sunny days. Unfortunately, while the smell of chlorine conjures up some pretty sweet nostalgia, the stuff certainly isn’t doing anything for my health. As a chemical bleaching agent that is actually toxic in large doses, chlorine can pose a real health risk to swimmers big and small.
Although chlorine has been used since the 1920’s to keep pools clean, chlorinated water has been found to irritate the eyes and skin, as well as trigger asthma. When the stuff interacts with the dirt and sweat on our bodies, it forms a harmful chemical called trichloramine, which a 2003 Belgian study found in high concentrations in blood samples of children who frequently swim in pools.