Few Dips in The Swimming Pool Could Leave You With DNA Damage
12 Feb, 2011 - 07:21pm
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and a fun way to cool down in the blazing summer. But splashing around in the pool may not be as safe as you thought. In a recent study conducted by University of Illinois in US and University of Barcelona in Spain, it has been found that the disinfectants used to clean the pool may cause some toxic damage to your DNA. The study was published in Environmental Science and Technology.Previous researches have already established an association between the disinfectants used in swimming pools and adverse health outcomes, primarily respiratory problems such as asthma. A link between chlorinated water and the risk of contracting bladder cancer had already been noted in other studies. The culprit behind these problems were believed to be the byproducts of organic matter such as sweat, hair and skin in combination with the disinfectants present in the pool water. In the present study the researchers aimed at comparing the DNA damage caused by swimming pool water and the pure tap water used to fill up the pool. The study is different than its successors in the sense that it is supposedly the first one to examine the effects of pool waters on animal cells. In order to identify potential health hazards posed by the swimming pool water the researchers compared different disinfection methods. Swimming pools use disinfectants such as chlorinating or brominating agents to clean the water and prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases. On reaction with the sweat, hair, urine and other organic products present in the water these disinfectants form byproducts that can be toxic to humans. The research involved a sample of water from swimming pools and tap water that supplied these pools. Seven public pools were chosen for the study and it included both indoor and outdoor pools as well as warm and cold-water pools. The data suggested that agents containing the chemical bromine should be avoided for disinfecting the pool water as they were found to be most toxic in nature. They also found that the swimming pool exposed to the rays of the sun posed lesser threat to the DNA than the indoor swimming pools. Only a small amount of water samples were used on the mammalian cells. Therefore, it is difficult to directly compare it with the water from the swimming pool which offers a more dilute exposure to the swimmers. Also it is difficult to say how commonly used are the disinfectants having the chemical bromine in them. And lastly it is a study done on animal cell, so it is uncertain how it applies to humans. However, one thing is clear that pool water may pose some threat to human health. The researchers have advised that a combination of chlorination and UV treatment should be adopted for cleaning the pools. They also noted that people should take shower before entering a swimming pool and also refrain from urinating in the pool.