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Swimming Pool Risks for Kids

Children look forward to the summer months for fun at pools and water parks. However, while they are having fun in the sun, there are hidden risks. Parents should be aware of the risks at home and public pools, and water parks. Most infections and accidents are preventable with proper knowledge and precaution. Your children can have a fun and healthy summer in the pool.

Springing up in towns and backyards in the '60s, the pool offered a healthy alternative to polluted beaches and waterways. 

But the very thing that makes pools healthy for many – chlorine-based disinfectant – makes it a potential health hazard for others.

Chlorine-based disinfectants (hypochlorite, chlorine and chloroisocyanurates) inactivate a wide range of water-borne pathogens. But when these chemicals react with organic matter such as urine and sweat, chlorine releases a mixture of by-products that can irritate the eyes, skin and upper airways.

Recent research by Belgian scientists published in Pediatrics has added to the theory that chlorine in swimming pools can increase the incidence of asthma, allergic rhinitis and hay fever in those who are vulnerable to allergies.

The researchers examined 847 students between 13 and 18 years of age who had been swimming in indoor chlorinated and un-chlorinated pools.

They found that children who were allergy sensitive were more likely to develop asthma and other allergies if they swam in chlorinated pools. Those who spent more than 1000 hours in chlorinated pools were up to 14.9 times more likely to have asthma and 3.5 times more likely to have allergic rhinitis. Children who were not allergy sensitive or who had swum only in pools solely disinfected with copper or silver ion-based sanitizers did not display asthma or respiratory symptoms.

Some of the parasite are resistant to chlorine so if you are going swimming, especially at your local pool, the Victorian Better Health Channel advises you to keep the following hygiene tips in mind:

- Shower yourself and your child before swimming.

- Do not use the pool if you or your child has had diarrhea or a gastrointestinal infection in the previous week.

- Do not change your child's nappy by the side of the pool.

- Reduce the risk of accidents by taking children for frequent trips to the toilet.

- Do not rinse your hands in the pool water after a trip to the toilet or after changing your child's nappy. Use warm water and soap.