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Indoor Pool Air May Cause Lung Damage

After reading many of the articles I've posted and written about the childhood obesity epidemic, I believe many of you parents are turning off your TVs, skipping daily trips to nearby fast-food restaurants and working with your kids to get them moving. And, with winter's chill already upon us, frequent trips to the indoor swimming pool appear to be a fun way for your kids to spend a cold afternoon. Guess again!

New research has discovered kids who make regular visits to an indoor pool may develop damage to a type of lung cell that helps prevent airway inflammation. Moreover, repeated exposure to chlorine byproducts in the air around indoor pools may harm these respiratory cells, known as Clara cells.

Previous studies have found elevated rates of airway inflammation and asthma among competitive swimmers, with researchers attributing it to inhalation of chlorine gas and its byproducts. In fact, trained swimmers may have poorer Clara cell function, researchers said.

Researchers measured lung function and blood levels of an anti-inflammatory protein (CC16), produced by Clara cells in 57 Swedish children. Nearly 40 percent of the 10- to 11-year-olds examined were considered regular indoor pool users. Compared with their peers, children who regularly used these pools had a lower average CC16 concentration, suggesting damage to Clara cells.

Sodium hypochlorite, which contains 1 percent chlorine, was used to disinfect the pools. As a result, the surrounding air contained elevated levels of nitrogen trichloride (NCl3), which forms when chlorine reacts with organic matter, such as sweat. High levels of NCl3 in the air have been shown to irritate the eyes and throat.

Swimming is a wonderful sport. Unfortunately, the best place to swim is where many of our Paleolithic ancestors did: In the ocean. The salt water actually serves to kill many of the parasites that live on our skin and in our nasal passages and eyes and takes a huge stress off our immune system. Additionally, we tend to absorb many of the valuable minerals from the water.

As researchers found out, chlorinated swimming pool is a far inferior alternative. The chlorine in most pools is rapidly absorbed through your skin and can contribute to some major disruptions in your kids' biochemistry.

Yahoo News December 15, 2004

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