When summertime comes around, the amount of chlorine exposure drastically rises. The safest option would be to swim in natural bodies of water, like the ocean, or lakes/rivers. But public and personal pools that contain chlorine can be hard to avoid at times. So what’s the harm of chlorine pools, you may ask?
Chlorine bleach used in pools sits on top of the surface. Shockingly, people go to hospitals each year with symptoms of high chlorine exposure, just from inhalation. This is referred to as chlorine poisoning. A study written in 2003 even addresses the harmful effects of chlorine on the brain. Chlorine bleach exposure is linked to impaired neurobehavioral functions including reaction time and balance. It’s even more concerning when chlorine is mixed with other chemicals, and actually stresses the metabolic system because of the disinfection byproducts that are created when chlorine and chemicals come together.
Additionally, there are other contaminants that can be found in chlorinated pools such as sunscreen, urine, sweat, feces, chemicals from beauty products and personal care products like deodorant and even runoff chemicals from grass. When chlorine combines with these chemicals, it causes the creation of haloacetic acids (also known as HAA’s). These include: dibromoacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, and trichloroacetic acid. When people consume high levels of these acids they are increasing their chances of several different types of cancers.
Depending on length or level of exposure, chlorine can cause severe symptoms such as:
nausea and vomiting
coughing and wheezing
burning sensations on skin and in eyes
watery or red eyes
What steps can you take to neutralize chlorine?
Chlorine can be removed naturally with three things: sunlight, aeration, and agitation of the water
Adding Sodium Thiosulfate which is a Chlorine Neutralizer, for instantaneous reduction in levels
Adding Ascorbic Acid, also known as Vitamin C, to remove chlorine quickly
Adding hydrogen peroxide to break down chlorine
If too much chlorine was added to a pool, either through regular maintenance or shocking the pool, letting the chlorine dissipate naturally is the best bet by allowing it to offgas on its own as it’s exposed to sunlight. Aerating the pool and filtering it will allow the excess amount of chlorine to dissipate. Chlorine sits on top of the water, making it easy to inhale into your lungs.
Utilizing an Ascorbic Acid or Vitamin C Spray (you can DIY your own)
Ensuring your skin is well hydrated with a chemical free lotion or coconut oil to create a barrier for your skin
Taking a shower immediately after chlorine exposure
Soaking in a detox bath
To eliminate the transfer of chemicals from a person’s body to the pool, showering before pool exposure is the best bet. However, on vacation, or at public pools, that often isn’t the case.
DIY Ascorbic Acid Spray:
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid
1 lead free glass spray bottle (plastic bottles can leach into the mixture from acidity and also expose you to unwanted microplastics)
Chemical exposure is something we cannot avoid, especially from manmade products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports more than 4 billion pounds of chemicals are released into our environment (land and air) every year in the United States. We need to work each day to decrease our chemical load, regardless. Here are ways you can detox your body from chemical exposure:
Drinking lots of water and green tea
Keeping your bowels moving
Exercising to induce sweating
Eating nutrient-dense whole foods
Cutting out sugar and processed foods
Considering herbs and other supplements to support the detox process such as milk thistle to support the liver
Get fresh air outside
Heavy metal detox tactics such as smoothies and zeolite sprays
Fasting with appropriate hydration
Regularly taking Prebiotics and Probiotics
Body code sessions with a naturopath that can balance your body’s energy
Spending time in a sauna
DIY Detox Bath Recipe:
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup diatomaceous earth
1/4 cup bentonite clay
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup epsom salt (60lbs or less)
Note: Ensure your body’s detox pathways are open and your body is able to properly detox prior to these methods, so the toxins are shed out of the body.
Choosing a safe sunscreen brand also allows for decreased exposure to harmful chemicals for your own body, as well as others in the pool around you. Traditional brands like Neutrogena, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic and Coppertone, carry a large amount of synthetic ingredients and harmful chemicals within their products.
Safe Sunscreen Brands:
Beauty by Earth
Rowe Casa Organics
DIY your own
Pregnant women and children are even more susceptible to the harmful effects of shocking a pool, where additional chlorine is added. This process actually creates what are called THM’s through a chemical reaction. Trihalomethanes, or THM’s are linked to miscarriage, low birth weight, and even neural tube defects, but studies conflict each other with their results. Shockingly, these byproducts are also found in tap water, which is just another reason to avoid drinking tap water, especially when pregnant.
No matter how many steps you may take to lower your chemical exposure, we come in contact with manmade materials daily. During the summer, exposure to sunscreen and chlorine often poses many harmful risks. Take these steps to decrease your risk and keep your family safe.