Chlorine Tied to Lung Damage in Swimmers

Elite athletes at risk for respiratory illness


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A study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that elite swimmers who train in indoor chlorinated pools exhibit lung damage and airway inflammation similar to that of mild asthmatics. Researchers at the Lille 2 University of Health and Law in France compared lung tissue in 23 young elite Canadian swimmers to that of 10 mild asthmatics and 10 individuals without allergies. The athletes, who were in their early 20s, showed levels of immune cells comparable to that of the asthma group. But researchers also observed scar tissue in the athletes’ lungs not found in either the healthy or asthmatic group. Fifty to 65 percent of competitive swimmers have allergies, compared to about 32 percent of the general population. “This study is the first to show direct evidence of airway damage associated with swimming in chlorinated pools,” said Alfred Bernard, a toxicologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium.

Read more at Reuters