Archiv der Kategorie ‘Environmental Medicine‘

Chlorine in the swimming pool can ruin your health and cause cancer

Experts call for alternative disinfectant for swimming pools

Indoor swimming pools in cities were once a status symbol. Now there are other factors to consider. The cost for the maintenance of swimming pools is enormous. But there is another factor that is not often in the foreground, but certainly plays a role: chlorine – the chemical added to disinfect the water. Chlorine is effective and cheap, but it is toxic and has destroyed the health of many lifeguards and swimmers. In some cities there were staff shortages in the pool, because one lifeguard after another died because of cancer.

A recent report on the health hazards of chlorine in swimming pools:

Swimming in chlorinated indoor or outdoor pools may increase the risk of cancer. Because of this fact a team of researchers has been created by Manolis Kogevinas at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona. The researchers have identified more than 100 chemical intermediates in chlorinated pools. They advise not to stop swimming in pools, but want to achieve a change in terms of hygiene and in bathrooms which would require swimmers to make adjustments and to wash thoroughly with soap before the swim.

“Chlorine is a highly active microbial killer and reacts with a variety of organic substances. These include skin cells, sweat and urine, the bathroom specialist Rudolf Wagner declared at a water workshop for the press-text interview. “If one takes a shower before the swim, one reduces these reactions immensely,” said Wagner. “An alternative to chlorine is ozone. This oxidant is less strong and less reactive.”

Chlorine: High reactivity

Although chlorine is an effective bacteria killer, scientists have long warned against the negative consequences for human health. The team with Kogevinias discovered from a 50-member group of subjects, that some of the intermediates of the disinfectant were poisonous and never before found in swimming pools.

The swimmers had their blood, urine, and breath tested before and after a 40-minute swim in the water. After the session, the subjects showed some increased markers of DNA damage that can lead subsequently to cancer. The chemical intermediates enter through the skin and respiratory organs in the body. Nevertheless, the researchers point out that it is too early to conclude long-term health problems from these short-term changes.

Previous studies have shown that lifeguards suffer from increased asthma, respiratory problems, allergies and ear, nose, and throat irritation.

When making plans, consider health risks

In new planning and renovation of swimming pools safe disinfectants should be prioritzed. Exposing pool staff and swimmers to chlorine and its toxic breakdown products, based on research results in recent years, should simply be no longer acceptable. It is easier not think about the health risks for employees and swimmers even when experts are calling for further research but it is unacceptable to continue to expose these people to the known health risks..

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network

Literature: PT Austria, Chlor im Pool: Ziemlich ungesunde Mischung pte/14.09.2010

Scientific findings on the causes of contact allergy

Fragrances, which are used in many households and skin care products can cause contact dermatitis when oxygen is exposed to air, as this research shows as presented at the dermatologist conference in Gothenburg, at the University of Gothenburg and at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

The Swedish researchers have focused their research on identifying how these can be activated by contact with oxygen in the air and how this in turn affects the skin. A specially focused study examined whether the activated fragrance caused a contact allergy in eczema patients at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital Dermatology Clinic and at the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Department of Dermatology in Malmö. It was found that a high percentage of the 3,400 patients with eczema had an allergic reaction to the tested fragrance substances.

“In an effort to get a deeper understanding as to how contact allergies occur, we now use state-of-the-art microscopes to track what happens to an allergen when it enters the skin,” said Ann-Therese Karlberg, Professor of Dermatochemistry / skin allergies and researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

When determining how an allergenic substance works, it must be also taken into consideration the skin’s ability to activate a substance by metabolism.

We have developed a mixture that corresponds to the composition of real skin enzymes. We use them to find out if the chemicals can be activated in the skin and to see what the allergen is.”

The discovery from the Swedish scientist will help health service providers by developing new diagnostic tools to correctly diagnose allergic contact eczema, and long-term contribution to reducing the number of cases with allergic contact dermatitis. For the patients, a correct diagnosis that they can avoid exposure to triggering substances, and to heal their eczema gives them a chance.

“Future research will include evaluating new diagnostic methods and conducting more in-depth studies on what penetrates the skin. This will allow us to develop new drugs and to replace the only treatment, cortisone ointment, which is currently available for eczema,“ said Prof. Karl Berg, who believes that their research through their effects on producers, consumers and legislators can improve the prevention work.

Contact allergy

It is estimated that in Europe almost 20% of the population is affected by a contact allergy, which means that patients develop eczema when they come into contact with substances to which they are allergic. After nickel, fragrances are the most common cause of contact allergy. For this type of allergy, there is no cure, but cortisone cream can alleviate the symptoms, and avoiding all possible contact with the allergen is helpful as well.


Ann-Therese Karlberg, Göteborg University, New discovery of the causes of contact allergy, 6 October 2010