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Chlorine in Pools Raises Kids' Asthma, Allergy Risk
Date:9/14/2009

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The study included 847 Belgian teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18. All had attended indoor or outdoor swimming pools, but at various rates of attendance. One hundred and fourteen children mainly attended pools that were kept clean with a copper-silver disinfect, rather than chlorine. The remainder primarily attended pools disinfected with chlorine.

The number of children who ever had asthma went up in proportion to their chlorinated pool exposure. Teens who swam for 100 to 500 hours in chlorinated pools had an 80 percent increased risk of having asthma, while those who logged 500 to 1,000 hours had just over twice the risk. When teens spend more than 1,000 hours swimming in chlorinated water, the risk of ever having had asthma nearly quadrupled. The risk of currently having asthma was more than eight times higher in the group with more than 1,000 hours in chlorinated pools compared to those who were rarely in chlorinated water, according to the study.

The risk of allergies also increased significantly when adolescents spent more than 100 hours swimming in chlorinated pools. In fact, the risk of hay fever and other allergies more than doubled with significant chlorinated pool exposure.

Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, said this study highlights the fact that "asthma and allergies are caused by a multitude of different factors, and chlorine may have a potential effect. But, this is a very preliminary study, and we don't yet know what the whole picture is."

She said that she wouldn't advise parents to stop taking their kids swimming, even if they have asthma already. "If your kids have asthma and you know chlorine is a trigger, it's a good idea to try to limit their exposure, but you can't exclude your child from everything and every potential trigger. You have to let them be kids."

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