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Chlorine is a chemical commonly used to disinfect swimming pools. It can effectively eliminate bacteria and fungi from water, although normal levels of chlorination may not be effective for destroying Giardia cysts that can contribute to dysentery, according to Pennsylvania State University experts. Pool owners often choose chlorine over more modern treatment chemicals because of its low cost. Many health professionals believe, however, that there are risks involved with using chlorine as a purification agent for swimming pool water.


The use of chlorine as a swimming pool disinfectant may increase the risk of allergies, particularly hay fever, Dr. Andrew Weil writes on his website. Children and teenagers who spend more than 1,000 hours in chlorinated swimming pools may be up to eight times more likely to develop allergies than those who do not swim in chlorinated water.


Chlorinated swimming pool water may also increase the risk of developing asthma, Weil notes. When combined with organic material such as urine or sweat, chlorine is thought to produce an irritant called trichloramine, which may damage the protective cellular barrier in the lungs. The degradation of this protective barrier may facilitate the development of asthma symptoms. Trichloramine is thought to permeate the air surrounding chlorinated pools during evaporation --- meaning that people sitting near chlorinated water may also develop asthma.

Birth Problems

Some medical researchers believe that chlorine may increase the risk of birth problems in pregnant women, including spontaneous abortion, birth defects and stillbirth. However, according to research published in the journal "Occupational and Environmental Medicine," the risk or these problems is minimal. As of 2010, research linking exposure to chlorine in swimming pool water to birth defects and other birth problems is inconclusive.

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