How to Avoid “Chlorine Damage” While Swimming


The Health Benefits of Swimming

Swimming is a popular form of exercise that can improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. However, it’s important to remember that swimming pools are public places with complex and ever-changing hygiene conditions, and poor hygiene can lead to health issues. So, how can you exercise safely while avoiding potential risks?

Hygiene Challenges in Swimming Facilities

First and foremost, the pool water itself is a major source of health risks. Since it comes into direct contact with our bodies, substances like urine, sweat, and sunscreen from our skin can potentially enter the water, creating an environment for bacteria and viruses to thrive. Additionally, due to external factors, there may be microorganisms in the water that can cause diseases like diarrhea, conjunctivitis, and respiratory infections. These pathogens often cannot be removed by the pool water treatment system, so swimmers in poorly maintained facilities might be at risk of conditions such as conjunctivitis, sinusitis, otitis, swimmer’s itch, viral respiratory infections, or skin irritation, swelling, and gastrointestinal problems.

Health Risks Associated with Pool Water

To safeguard the health of swimmers, pool water needs to undergo disinfection to kill pathogens and prevent the spread of diseases.

Methods of Disinfecting Pool Water

So, what disinfectants are used in pool water? Currently, there are several methods to choose from, including chlorine disinfection, ozone, chlorine dioxide, ultraviolet light, and bromine products. Additionally, there are less common methods, such as using silver ions. Chlorine disinfection is a well-established method, originally used for drinking water treatment. Common disinfectants include liquid chlorine, calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite, sodium dichloroisocyanurate, and trichloroisocyanuric acid.

Liquid chlorine is a product of liquefied chlorine gas, with an effective chlorine content close to 100%. Although it is relatively inexpensive, it is highly hazardous and has a strong odor, so it is rarely used.

Sodium hypochlorite (liquid bleach) has an effective chlorine content between 10% and 15%, is affordable, and readily available, making it a common disinfectant.

Trichloroisocyanuric acid (trichlor) has an effective chlorine content between 85% and 95%. It is an organic chlorine disinfectant that can rapidly kill various microorganisms. It is relatively stable and has less irritation to the skin and mucous membranes, which is why it is commonly used for pool water disinfection.

Impact of Chlorine on the Human Body

The question of whether chlorine is harmful to the human body depends on various factors, including the hygiene management of the swimming facility, water quality control, temperature, and the frequency of water replacement. If the disinfectant concentration is too low, the water may not effectively disinfect, increasing the likelihood of microbial growth. If the concentration is too high, it may cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes.

Preventing Chlorine-Related Injuries

Some people may experience red and swollen eyes, dry skin on their hands, and frizzy hair after swimming, which could be related to the chlorine in the pool. Disinfectants are strong oxidizers and may harm the skin and hair, leading to “chlorine injuries.”

To reduce chlorine-related injuries, you can take the following measures:

  • Wear a swim cap, waterproof goggles, nose clips, and earplugs to prevent water from entering your eyes, nose, and ears. If water gets in your eyes, avoid rubbing them with your hands; instead, rinse them with clean water. If you accidentally swallow pool water, rinse your mouth with clean water.
  • Avoid uncivilized behavior, such as not showering before entering the pool, not wearing a swim cap, not washing your feet, spitting or urinating in the pool, and vigorously scrubbing your body after swimming. Additionally, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol before swimming.
  • Control your swimming duration and frequency; excessive chlorine exposure can lead to adverse reactions, particularly for those with sensitive skin.

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