Indoor swimming pools may not be the healthiest environment for kids. Belgian researchers have reported that exposure to a by-product (nitrogen trichloride) of chlorine used to disinfect pools damages the lungs and could be associated with a greater risk of asthma in children who swim frequently. Their study results were published in the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine (June 2003).
The news is not all bad, however. Alfred Bernard, PhD, lead investigator in the study, said that the potential problem has an easy solution?proper ventilation for indoor pools. Another safeguard that could greatly cut down on the amount of nitrogen trichloride released in pools is to make sure that swimmers are clean before entering the pool, and to keep young children from leaving bodily fluids behind (urine and saliva). In Brussels, indoor pools are closed if they fail to meet proper air-quality standards, and swimmers are required to shower before swimming. Dr. Bernard said that more studies are needed to determine how much exposure to chlorine affects childhood asthma rates.