Swimming can be an excellent form of exercise, and splashing around in a pool is many people’s idea of the perfect way to spend a summer day. Unfortunately, chlorine is regularly used in pools and its short and long term effects are the furthest idea from fun in the sun. Even our municipal water systems are treated with chlorine, so even if you never step foot in the city pool, your daily shower can be enough to expose you to the dangers of chlorine. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to effectively reduce the harmful effects of chlorine in our water.
Many pools rely on chlorine as a means to prevent illness by killing harmful bacteria and germs. Cities can also use chlorine to treat drinking water for the same reason. While it’s a good thing, to have safe water to swim in and drink, there are some real downsides to chlorine’s use.
Exposure to chlorine has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, asthma, and irritation of the skin and throat. Some studies suggest that the most harmful aspect of chlorine is when it combines with organic material, such as urine and sweat. In addition, when water is combined with chlorine, it creates what’s called a hypochlorite, also known as bleach. This is why you’ll notice your swimsuit fading after several uses. Those who suffer from chlorine allergies are prone to symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Finally, chlorine can be very drying and cause brittle hair and rashes on the skin.
It may seem like a good idea to just avoid chlorine altogether, but for some, that may be unrealistic. The following tips can help neutralize chlorine at home and in the pool:
At home, carbon water filters can reduce the amount of chlorine, along with other chemicals, in your drinking and bath water. Adding vitamin C in the form of a powder to bathwater will neutralize chlorine and make it much safer for bathing in. Vitamin C is available for purchase in the form of either sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid. To use, simply add 1 teaspoon of powder to your bathwater and allow it to work for 3-5 minutes before getting in.
When swimming in chlorinated pools, follow these steps: Before diving in, take a quick shower to get your skin and hair wet. Then apply an emollient lotion to your skin and a conditioner to your hair. This helps by reducing the amounts of chemicals your body absorbs. When you get out of the pool, neutralize chlorine on hair and skin with a vitamin C spray. You can buy a premade formula or make your own by combining ½ teaspoon of vitamin C powder with ½ cup of water in a spray bottle. You can also wash your swimsuit and accessories in the same vitamin C solution to help prevent fading and damage. Finally, be sure to moisturize your skin and condition your hair well to further combat dryness from the chlorine.