As an asthmatic who is allergic to chlorine, swimming can become problematic. The fumes are still there even if it has been some time since the last time the chemicals were added. It is unsurprising to find out that these chemicals send people to the emergency room.
Statistics: About 5000 people go to the emergency room each year because of pool chemicals. Researchers believe that the number of injuries is higher but some don’t see the doctor.
What problems are reported? Chemical burns from mishandling the products and lung damage from inhaling improperly prepared chlorine. The latter is the most common.
Who is at risk? Anyone who handles the chemicals are potentially at risk. Those who don’t read the instructions are the most likely to be harmed, though accidents happen. Another at risk group are children. If the chemicals are in a location they can get to, they could get into them.
Asthmatics are also at risk. This is not a well-known fact, though it should be. Any chemical we breathe in has the potential to cause an attack and pool chemicals are a definite hazard.
Are there alternatives? That’s debatable. There are saline pools, usually found at hotels and gyms. They use salt, but they also use chlorine. The salt is added to help with the chloramine level rather than to eliminate all chlorine. They do still use chlorine.
What are chloramines? If you go to a public pool and you smell a lot of chlorine, the pool needs to be maintained. Chlorine is added to the pool to get rid of contaminants such as sweat. After the contaminant is neutralized, the combination is changed to chloramines. More chlorine is added to get rid of them.
What can I do? There are several things that we can do to avoid any of the problems swimming pools can pose. Some of it is obvious. Read the instructions carefully before handling any pool chemicals. If it’s for a saline pool and you’re unsure, either ask someone or look it up on-line. Keep the chemicals out of the reach of children at all times.
Asthmatics can still swim, but a saline pool is wiser because it doesn’t have as much chlorine as a regular pool. I can tell you that from personal experience. My gym has one and it has yet to cause an asthma attack. If you do have an asthma attack after swimming, talk to your doctor. The doctor can give you further safety instructions and may change your medications to prevent further problems.