Ask the Doctor: Are Pool Chemicals Safe?

Summer is here, and everyone is ready to jump in the pool and cool off. While chlorine has its dangers, I am all for play and fun exercise, and you can easily manage your child’s exposure to the chemical.

Most public pools are disinfected with chlorine—literally, bleach—which has been linked to both respiratory ailments like asthma and allergies, as well as skin irritation, especially in those children with more exposure (like those on a swim team). It’s still completely fine for most children to enjoy the pool: Just be sure your child bathes or showers as soon as possible after swimming to reduce his exposure time to chlorine. Take more breaks to hang out poolside if your child seems susceptible to allergies or asthma. Mix up your fun, if you can, and visit a local lake or the ocean at least some of the time.

There are a growing number of natural treatment options for water purification: Saltwater pools and other mineral forms of purification (like copper) are becoming more popular, as are electric ionization techniques. Time will tell if they are safer for us and for the environment.

Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.

Have a question for Dr. Rosen? 
E-mail him at [email protected]

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