Could Indoor Pools Be Adding to the High Asthma Rates?

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According to a new study, which proposes a “pool chlorine hypothesis,” children who spend time in indoor swimming pools may be more prone to developing asthma. This could explain why we are seeing higher rates of asthma in all age groups, as previous exposure could be the culprit for why today many adults are wheezing.

 According to the researchers who conducted the study, exposure to a toxic chemical (and its by-products) that is present in indoor pools is causing the problem. They state that the chlorine gas has caused the indoor swimming environment to contain “one of the most concentrated air pollutants to which children are exposed.”

 This new finding points at yet another possible cause as to why we are seeing the highest rates of asthma in history. The study, which was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, formulated the hypothesis that chlorine gas is contributing to the ever increasing problem of asthma. The study focused on European asthma rates only.

 There have been other recent studies that have also pointed out this risk. When children visit indoor pools frequently, researchers have found that youngsters who are exposed to this toxic gas also experience a higher risk of developing asthma. This is particularly present in very young children, according to the new study.

 The researchers focused on whether or not the number of indoor pools per person was a reason for the variation in asthma rates seen across Europe in different countries. To help formulate their “pool chlorine hypothesis,” the researchers turned to analyzing data from another study — the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood — which involved 189,150 children, ages 13 to 14, who were examined in 21 countries at 69 centers. The study also looked at younger children as well, ages six to seven (94,549 kids participated in this age group). The researchers specifically looked at the differences between the rates of wheezing asthma in children, in relation to the amount of indoor swimming pools per every 100,000 individuals in each country. While the number of indoor pools varied from country to country, the average sat at about one pool for every 50,000 people throughout Western Europe.

 This varied from Eastern Europe, where there was one pool for every 300,000 people. Since countries in Western Europe have more money than those countries in Eastern Europe do, the researchers accounted for each country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to help even out the results. Regardless of adjusting for differences between the GDP in Eastern and Western European counties, the researchers found that the incidences of asthma rose when looking at the number of indoor swimming pools per person across Europe. This occurred in both of the age groups that they looked at. It was the group involving the older children that experienced a stronger relationship between asthma and indoor swimming pool use.

 According to the researchers, they stated that the findings were “not surprising,” in children who spent time in chlorine-laden swimming pools. The amount of toxins that the children are breathing in was found to be detrimental to their health, according to the researchers. They also called for more research into this link, to see if it has any bearing on the rising incidences of asthma among other people (especially children) in developed countries.

 This study could offer yet another reason for why we should be weary of toxins in our environment — and why prevention and avoidance is key to good lung health when it comes to irritants that can harm your health.