Brian McKenna (703) 741-5208
July 23, 2010
Study on Pool Sanitation Also Makes Unsubstantiated Claims about the Health Risks for Swimmers
ARLINGTON, VA (July 23, 2010) – A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology highlights many of the sanitary concerns the American Chemistry Council is addressing in its Healthy Pools Campaign but offers little evidence to support conclusions regarding potential health risks for swimmers.
Judith Nordgren, Managing Director of the American Chemistry Council’s Chlorine Chemistry Division, issued the following statement in response to the study:
“Chlorine is added to swimming pools around the world precisely because of its health benefits. Chlorine-based disinfectants help make swimming pools safer by destroying a wide range of microbes that cause a number of common diseases, including bacterial gastro-enteritis, athlete’s foot, dermatitis and ear infections.
“We agree that clean and healthy swimming pools should be a priority this summer season. That’s why we worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch our Healthy Pools Campaign. This study addresses some of these important issues. For example, the researchers highlight the essential role swimmers can play in keeping pools healthy, such as showering before swimming and refraining from peeing in the pool.
“The study suggests that various factors may influence the potential toxicity of swimming pool water (e.g., temperature, sunlight, contaminants from swimmers and treatment method). Given the small sample size and other limitations, this study does not support the authors’ assertions about which treatment methods are preferable.
“The specific assertions regarding bladder cancer are not new and remain unsubstantiated. The National Cancer Institute has stated that there is ‘no proof that chlorinated water causes bladder cancer in people.’ Furthermore, Great Britain’s National Health Service reviewed this study and subsequent media coverage of the study and found that ‘although The Daily Telegraph reports a link between chlorinated swimming pool water and a greater risk of cancer (notably bladder cancer), this particular study did not directly examine this or look at any other particular health outcomes in people. As such, it is difficult to gauge from this study the actual effects on human health.’
“The World Health Organization has long supported the use of chlorine-based pool disinfectants in eliminating waterborne germs and contaminants introduced by swimmers: ‘The risks from exposure to chlorination by-products in reasonably well managed swimming pools would be considered small and must be set against benefits of aerobic exercise and risks in the absence of disinfection.’”
Learn more about chlorine.