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06 June 2011

New Study links chlorinated swimming pools with increased cancer risk

Spanish researchers from the Centre of Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), based in Barcelona, along with the Research Institute Hospital del Mar, have recently concluded a study involving the cause/effect relationship between body exposure to chlorinated water in indoor swimming pools and ‘mutagenicity’, the permanent mutation of the DNA, which can lead to an enhanced risk of cancer.
In a statement released by CREAL on Monday, “The evidence of genotoxic effects were observed in 49 healthy adults after swimming for 40 minutes in a chlorinated indoor pool.”
Although initial results appear to indicate a direct cause/effect relationship between the chemicals and an increased cancer risk, as stated by Manolis Kogevinas, co-director of CREAL, “The positive health impacts of swimming can be increased by reducing the levels of these chemicals.”

The solution is not to avoid or reduce swimming, but to curtail the level of chlorine chemicals in pools

Kogevinas went on to note, “In no case do we want to stop swimming, but to encourage the reduction of chemicals in swimming pools.” He offered that the problems caused by a reduction in levels of disinfectant could be offset if swimmers were to shower prior to swimming, wear bathing caps and curtailed urinating in the water.
A series of three articles published AOP (Ahead of Print) in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), represent the first research of its kind to provide a comprehensive characterization of DBP’s (Disinfection By-Products) existing within indoor pool environments.
DBP’s are created in pool water as a result of reactions between chemical disinfectants like chlorine and organic matter introduced by swimmers (sweat, skin cells, urine). There have already been studies that have shown a relationship between DBP’s in drinking water and risk of bladder cancer as well as an association as a result of dermal or inhalational exposure, as occurs as a result of showering, bathing or swimming activities.
It is also important to note that this study was conducted in a controlled environment and does not necessarily include or represent all conditions of swimming pool maintenance and use that would be encountered in normal or everyday situations.
EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. EHP is an open-access journal and all EHP content is available online for free. (www.ehponline.org)


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