Summer fun is just around the corner and many of us are anxious to get our swimming pools up and running. Other folks have had their hot tubs and spas going all winter long. For both groups it’s just a matter of tweaking the chemicals to ensure that all is ‘safe’ and well.
Is what we are doing safe? If you thought yes then guess again! The levels of chemicals in both drinking water and our swimming pools is raising alarm amongst health professionals and environmentalists.
The truth is that chlorine is used for making plastics, pesticides and paper. Although most industries are making huge strides to reduce and ultimately eliminate its use, the end is not yet in sight. The wastewaters from these processes are dumped into the water systems often combining with other formidable substances to form yet more hazardous compounds. It is also used to treat water, although its known byproducts include PCB’s, DDT and dioxins. These chemicals have been associated with conditions such as cancer, immune disorders as well as fertility problems among other evils and are indeed mutagenic and/or carcinogenic.
In recent years, there have been numerous concerns about chlorine. Although chlorine disinfects drinking water, it also reacts with traces of other material of particles, such as dissolved solids, in the water and forms trace amounts of substances known as disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The most common of these are known as trihalomethanes (THMs). The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified THMs as a probable carcinogen.
Trihalomethanes (THM’S), are a byproduct of chlorine and are formed when chlorine reacts with hair and skin. If people using swimming pools and spas treated with chlorine shower prior and after entering the water, the development of THM’s are reduced.
You may be asking yourself, “I swim in a public pool for exercise, and I’m worried about the chlorine. Is there anything I can do to protect myself?”
Here is a helpful response from Dr. Julian Whitaker, Physician:
There are several things you can do to minimize the harmful effects of chlorine. Wear a swim cap to protect your hair, and swimming goggles or a mask to protect your eyes. Don’t linger in an indoor pool area. After your swim, shower quickly and thoroughly. And to protect your cells from free-radical damage caused by chlorine, be sure to take high-dose antioxidants: vitamin A (5,000 IU), beta-carotene (15,000 IU), vitamin E (800 IU), vitamin C (1,500 mg), and selenium (200 mcg).