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Thread: The medical effects of chlorine

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    The medical effects of chlorine

    Alright, so this has been causing some grief in my household and I'd like some more understanding so that we can resolve this. My wife is a loving mother. She's quite good at her job of raising 5 kiddos. They're young, and like many moms today she pours ever whole existence into their well being. We've also been pool owners for 9 years now. I started on 3" pucks, but several years back, I found the beauty of using chemistry to properly test your water, and bleach to treat it. But now with the kiddos, (aged 9 mo twins to 5 years old is our oldest) we're in the pool more than ever. I love it. I grew up in my grandma's pool, and loved those days. I love watching my kids share that same joy.

    Anyhow onto my point!

    There's been a lot of worrying over the effects of chlorine on one's skin. I'm quite cavalier on the matter and figure there is such a small concentration of chlorine in the pool, that it's not worth considering. Being cavalier isn't a good thing, I'm not defending my position, I'm looking for understanding. My wife is often concerned about not showering after each and every pool venture. I think it's a bit overkill, and I am using a bit of science in my reasoning, as I was literally in the pool everyday growing up, and never showered afterward, and never had any dry skin (or any skin issues). See, science! Right? Furthermore I was raised in a puck pool, and I'm sure the chlorine then was higher than my pool is currently. She's not uber upset over it, but as the question of "Don't you think we should rinse off" never goes away, it's time for answers.

    Any googling on the matter only seems to produce "Chlorine is a chemical, and chemicals are the devil. So if you swim in a chlorinated pool you're going to hades." Or something similar.

    So question 1, is it unwise not to shower after swimming?
    Question 2, is it unsafe to swim in a pool with a sick family member? Does pool water harm open wounds? (Two part question! Combo!)

    Question 2 is the prompt of this thread. My 2 year old has a NASTY case of hand foot and mouth disease. If you're unfamiliar with it, google it, and be prepared for some uncomfortable pictures. And if they look extreme, then you're looking at what my son has. It looks REALLY painful. His swimming style is floating in the pool with a puddle jumper. He loves it. My theory is a good soak will help clean those wounds, and calm his pain too. Plus, he loves it. He's out and about, and not thinking about his blisters. I tossed him in the pool today and he had a blast. My wife is concerned that he can spread his disease through the water, and that the chlorine will prevent his wounds from healing.

    If anybody has some sound explanation, or links to websites that tell the true facts of chlorine I'd appreciate it.

    My pool info: I let chlorine go between 3-6 PPM. CYA level is 40, and PH is almost always 7.5. 7.6ish currently. All other levels are totally average.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    This excellent post from yesterday addresses some of your questions: Swimming Pool Disinfection AMA on reddit!



    As for the effects of chlorine, I am much more at ease letting my family swim in my pool versus any natural body of water. There is much less risk due to chlorine than from any number of pathogens in nature, IMHO.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    1. You may not need to shower but, if it makes your wife feel better, it can't hurt.
    2. Foot and mouth is pretty contagious. Certainly, I wouldn't let the other children swim at the same time as your sick one. Chlorine shouldn't do anything to prevent him healing.

    ETA:

    It is possible to get infected with the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease if you swallow recreational water(http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/), such as water in swimming pools. However, this is not very common. This is more likely to happen if the water becomes contaminated with feces from a person who has hand, foot, and mouth disease and is not properly treated with chlorine.

    ETA2: It's difficult to find good information on whether or not chlorine helps or hurts the healing process. I'll give my two cents but keep in mind that I am not a doctor or nurse. Chlorine will kill the virus that is on the surface of an open wound - this will generally help it to heal more quickly. But most open wounds should be kept dry for faster healing. Soaking them swells the skin and prevents scab formation, which is an important part of the healing process - chlorine will cause some minimal damage to the underlying cells, which would not normally be exposed and are usually protected by skin - this may lead to somewhat greater scarring.

    Overall, I would say that a brief dip every day will do no harm and may do some good, certainly to his overall mood. But I would have serious reservations about allowing the other children in the pool unless you test the Chlorine level at least once daily and make sure it is well above the minimum for your CYA level at all times. I might pour a bit more bleach in after he has used it, and wait a significant amount of time before you allow the other children in. Better safe than sorry.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    Hi there. I don't have current links, but from past reading I will say that in terms of health the real issue with chlorine isn't chlorine, its chloramines that form (ccs). So maintaining FC to keep the ccs oxidized is actually better than low chlorine whereby monochloramines are not broken down.

    With that said, the CDC DOES say that Hand-Foot-Mouth disease can be communicated in pool water. Not sure CDC has the adequate knowledge to assess whether it can be communicated in a TFP-range-maintained pool though. In your shoes I might raise te FC a tad til your little guy is better.

    With respect to general skin conditions...I used to get dishydrotic eczema, which is litte blisters not unlike HFM -- and chlorinated water actually had a curative effect for me. Your mileage may vary.

    Just remember that given the buffering of cya, the FC levels were talking about here are not mch different tan drinking water levels, because drinking water has no cya. So showering in chlorinated municipal water is likely exposing y'all to as much or more chlorine than your pool
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    Just remember that given the buffering of cya, the FC levels were talking about here are not mch different tan drinking water levels, because drinking water has no cya. So showering in chlorinated municipal water is likely exposing y'all to as much or more chlorine than your pool
    Excellent point!
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    That pool is full of the chemical known as Dihydrogen Monoxide, aka water. Everything is a chemical, the "chemicals are bad" statement is a huge load of... well you know. The only problem I've had with chlorine had nothing to do with a pool, I was at work and we were santizing equipment and didn't have the test strips, so bleach was just dumped willy nilly into a bucket of water, it was strong and seemed to bleach my tanned arm some, it was probably off the charts strong.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    Having taught aqua aerobics many years and later going everyday for about five years to a therapy pool (warm and highly chlorinated) my skin always smelled like chlorine. There are neutralizing products, shampoos and body sprays. I recently researched neutralizing chlorine after swimming when we put in our pool and I discovered that vitamin C is the base. You can buy bulk powder and make your own spray and there are even shower heads that contain vitamin C cartridges. Something to look into for your wife's peace of mind.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    With TFPC we set chlorine level based on CYA level. FC/CYA Chart Swimming with FC up to shock level for your CYA is safe. Yes, swimming with FC at 28 ppm with CYA at 70 ppm is safe. And it is less harsh than swimming in a pool with 1 ppm FC and no CYA. The CYA buffers the harsh effects of chlorine. Yes, swampwoman is correct. The chlorine effects from your shower are more harsh than your pool. Test your tap water, no CYA and FC between 1 and 2 most likely.

    If you look at this chart, http://troublefreepool.com/~richardfalk/pool/HOCl.htm, you will see that FC at 5 ppm with CYA at 30 results in hypochlorous acid of 0.078 and FC of 1 with CYA at 0 results in hypochlorous acid of 0.484. And FC at 10 with CYA at 30 results in 0.213 HOCl, less than half of your shower/tub water.

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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    ^Thanks, pooldv, that was the link I was thinking of but couldn't find in my current highly-distracted environment
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    Thought I'd chime in,FWIW.
    I am a nurse, 15 years, mostly adults but I have many friends who did peds.
    HFM is nasty no doubt and contagious I've been out of the ER for years and only saw maybe 5 cases in the years i did work it but after the pt was sent home or transfered to the floor we cleaned the isolation room in the ER with bleach. I'm not sure if it's ok to swim in the pool at the same time as your little guy with HFM but a few minutes after he gets out with a small add of bleach is fine. We actually recommend "bleach baths" for some skin conditions including MRSA/boils, which are VERY contagious. I am actually pretty sure the risk of transmission of the HFM is low in properly chlorinated water even swimming at the same time as the little guy but don't risk it,it's pretty painful and you will not do as well as your baby I promise. Kids are waaayyy more resilient than we are...lol...
    And for the chlorine in the pool for regular swimming, don't argue with Momma about the rinse off after it's not worth it. But this mom (and long time nurse), doesn't rinse or make my kids rinse, because my swimming pool h2o is probably safer than the city's water supply. We have had tons of water boil advisorys in my city where we actually used the pool and outdoor hanging shower to bathe due to my whole families extremely sensitive skin. During one of the many water boils my husband actually developed a fungal infection on his hand. And that's the last time we used city water during a water boil to bathe. Ugh sometimes I hate this city, but my family's an extreme example. YMMV
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    When you rush off to shower, not only are you covering your body with higher active chlorine, most municipalities also use CCs for disinfection, so you're putting a dose of chloramines on your skin as well. A well run TFPC pool usually has zero CCs.

    Just a thought, but do a CC test on both one day, and that may help with understanding. There's a thread here somewhere about hand,foot,mouth and the caution above is a good one. I'm very sorry to hear for your child's sake, but if I remember right you're best to give that some time before swimming together, even with correct FC level.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    Wow, a lot of responses quickly. This site is great! I never considered the CYA bit, as I've tested our tap before, and the chlorine level is generally 0.5. (One drop clears the water with the stir test, and I only get a faint hue of yellow in the FC/PH vials) But looking at that chart it puts the chlorine levels as comparable if not more than in my pool.

    We're not terribly concerned about transferring the HFM in our family, we'd rather not, but trying to avoid spreading a disease in our household is impossible as our kids love playing with one another. And from what I've read about it, it's kind of like chicken pox, once you get it, you build an immunity. My wife and I have handled his tears and his turds (the way it is transmitted is saliva and feces) and we're fine so far. It rarely effects adults (likely as we've all had it), and my two older boys have been diagnosed with it previously. It does seem to his some harder than others. With my older boys they were feverish and not themselves, but it took a doctor to point out the tiny bumps on their hands and feet. With our son that has it now, a blind person could spot his sores from 10 yards away.

    Big thanks for everybody's input.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    My son suffers from Hidradenitis Suppuritiva. The dermatologists actually recommend swimming and or bleach baths.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    I just tried a quick search of chemgeek, he did several great posts on this, I just could not find it quickly. I had also read a lot about deleterious health effects of chlorine and was looking for an alternative sanitization method or thinking of bulldozing the pool. But after reading chemgeek's posts and looking at the science of the argument against chlorine, I came to the conclusion that a properly maintained pool on chlorine is safer than taking a shower. And not using chlorine to sanitize water is probably more dangerous than using it. Very glad I kept the pool, kids having a blast. I am sure they will have great memories as OP eluded to earlier. I really miss chemgeek's input but I am grateful for the time and knowledge he gave.
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    One more tip related to Diane's post...for your wife...you can buy cheap vitamin c cream in any drugstore. Vitamin c is ascorbic acid and it neutralizes chlorine. That's why its used in swim-protection products. Your wife might like to know about that.
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    The medical effects of chlorine

    I will add a personal bit to this topic. Overtime I have developed a very real and very serious problem with asthma and chemical sensitivity that developed 2 years ago. We have a chlorine pool. When handling the chemical I know it is dangerous. I wear a mask or gloves as needed and use caution. 1 gallon diluted in 14,000 gallons with an appropriate CYA does not bother me in the least. I do not worry about showering immediately after swimming for myself or my kids because my tap water is less balanced than my pool water. I wish I could take my shampoo into the pool with me to do my bathing.

    My son has had HFM. If we'd had a pool then, I would have let him swim for short periods, alone, and with chlorine being added to the pool shortly after to bring levels back up for other swimmers.

    Pretty much everything is a chemical. The synthetic chemicals created in labs and hidden in our personal products (fragrance) pose a much much greater danger to us than chemicals like chlorine added to our pools that are handled and diluted appropriately and have the proper warning labels.


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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    I am a trauma nurse. Some infected wounds are routinely dressed in a wet-to-dry dressing of a bleach type solution called "Clorapactin".

    I do not believe it necessary to shower/shampoo after swimming although Skippy says he has to. I don't feel sticky or smell of chlorine at all.

    A recent medical journal came out saying that on the whole Americans tend to over-bathe, doing it whether needed or not, and it encourages dry skin and other problems.

    Yip

    (To the poster who said dry wounds heal better- evidence shows a clean moist environment promotes better granulization tissue development)
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    Quote Originally Posted by YippeeSkippy View Post
    I am a trauma nurse. Some infected wounds are routinely dressed in a wet-to-dry dressing of a bleach type solution called "Clorapactin".

    I do not believe it necessary to shower/shampoo after swimming although Skippy says he has to. I don't feel sticky or smell of chlorine at all.

    A recent medical journal came out saying that on the whole Americans tend to over-bathe, doing it whether needed or not, and it encourages dry skin and other problems.

    Yip

    (To the poster who said dry wounds heal better- evidence shows a clean moist environment promotes better granulization tissue development)
    GOTTA LOVE A TRAMA NURSE! Lol

    Just for skips and giggles I tested the tap water vs my pool water, and drumroll please,
    City h2o has
    free chlorine 1
    Combined chlorine 1
    Ph 7.2
    Didn't check CYA no reason to
    Gross do people really drink this stuff?
    My pool h2o?
    Free chlorine 4
    Combined chlorine 0
    CYA 30
    Ph 7.4
    Maybe someone who is more of a chemist than me can analyze those #'s and tell me which is better for your skin...
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    Re: The medical effects of chlorine

    "Only your hairdresser knows for sure"
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