Swimming Pool Health Risks of Water High in Chlorine

Chlorine is a major key element when it comes to maintaining your home pool. It is the agent that prevents the apparition of algae, the element that keeps bacteria away, and the sanitizer that reduces health risks. While in small amounts, it has only beneficial effects on both pool and heath, in large amounts, it can cause several health issues. Over-chlorinated water can be dangerous to your health, but, luckily, its effects can be reversed, and its condition can be returned to a risk-free state.

Health Risks

The health issues caused by chlorine can be split into two main categories – external problems (which are easily visible with the naked eye) and internal problems (which might not be obvious at first but will still appear).

External Problems
  • Skin problems. Too much chlorine can irritate the sky, drying it up. While normal or oily skin might not be as affected as dry skin by this condition, mild irritation can appear on all types. Even more, sensitive skin tends to easily get rashes.
  • Hair risks. While you might be tempted to think that chlorine can’t affect your hair, you’re wrong. Chlorine does affect the hair by thinning it up and making it essential oils present in its structure. As a result, the hair will become fragile and dull, losing its natural shine, becoming prone to quick breaking. Even more, if your hair is already stressed out, it might even lead to premature whitening.
  • Eyes are also easily affected by high amounts of chlorine. A sure sign that they have been in contact with chlorine is the ‘sandy’ feeling you’ll have, as well as the redness easily visible.
Internal Problems
  • Asthma. Although this can be seen both in adults and children, young children are prone to show early symptoms. They will have a slight difficulty in breathing and will cough a lot, a sign they’ve been exposed to chlorine fumes. If the exposure is prolonged, the fumes might irritate the lungs, causing internal damage.
  • Digestive issues are also a common problem caused by excessive chlorine. This can happen if the swimmer has ingested, voluntarily or not, some amount of water. The chemicals will upset the balanced internal stomach juices, causing, in turn, diarrhea and stomach aches. The symptoms can aggravate with time, if left untreated, leading to being hospitalized – in the most serious cases.

For pools that do not use salt water, a solar ionizer can successfully help in reducing the amount of chlorine needed, as well as prevent algae.


Although the problems caused can be severe if left unchecked, luckily some solutions can remedy the situation. They do not require professional check-ups and can be easily introduced into the swimming routine. However, if the problems do intensify, or if you know you suffer from a chronic disease, it is recommended to check with a doctor and ask for his /her advice.

The skin problems can be reduced if you shower immediately after exiting the pool, to remove any amount of chemicals that might still stick to your skin. Use clean water and hydrating shower gels to get rid of chlorine. Also, if your skin still feels dry, use moisturizers. This will help keep your skin hydrated, fighting against chlor rashes and irritation.

The shower also applies to the hair. Get rid of the chemical particles stuck in your hair by utilizing a moisturizing shampoo. Also, a hair conditioner with essential oil extracts is a welcomed addition, as it will revitalize the hair, and will replace the lost oils. It will also help smoothen it out and reduce the frizz that is associated with pools, allowing hassle-free brushing. If you can, wear a swimming cap to help reduce the damage.

For the eyes, it is recommended to utilize eye drops. They will help lubricate the eye, in turn reducing the redness and eliminating the sand-like feeling. A second step to reduce eye damage is to wear water goggles, as they will add a secondary layer of protection for your eyes.

The internal problems, however, might be a bit difficult to alleviate on your own, and will require professional help. If you find yourself suffering from asthma, or if you happen to have chest pains while swimming, consider scheduling an appointment with a pneumologist as well as a cardiologist. While chlorine might not impact your heart condition directly, the lack of enough air in your lungs will make the heart beat faster or, in some cases irregular. The same goes for digestive issues, as they might become complicated if not treated correctly from the beginning.

Another means of keeping the water sanitized, is represented by salt chlorinator cells. This unit will transform the salt present in the water, into chlor, automatically regulating the quantity needed.

How to lower the chlorine levels

All the above-mentioned problems can be easily avoided if you learn how to manage the chlorine level from your pool. Once you’ve learned how much to add and when to add it, swimming will return to being a pleasant way to spend time with your loved ones.

  1. Test the water. You can easily do so with test kits and test strips. The kits are made to help you quickly determine what pH you have in your pool, as the color the water turns will correspond to a certain chemical level. The optimum level should be anywhere between 7.4 and 7.6. Anything beyond or lower these number will result in total alkalinity or acidic nature, which, in turn, will result in destroyed equipment and lining.
  2. Stop using chlorine. Remove any means you used to add chlorine to the water. If you’ve been using skimmer tablets, take them out. If a floater and a dispenser engaged, remove them. Depending on how high the level of chlorine is, it might take a bit for it to diminish. Don’t worry, this won’t affect its ability to prevent algae.
  3. Sun is your ally. Direct sun rays help dissipate chlorine by directly interacting with it, transforming it into an evaporative gas. It costs you nothing and it is highly efficient, with almost immediate results.
  4. Add fresh water. Simply empty some of the pool water already present in the basin and add fresh water. This is a direct solution to the problem as the remaining chlorine will fight against the bacteria present in the added water, in turn lowering its levels faster. However, make sure the concentration doesn’t drop under 2 ppm, as this will lead to other problems
  5. Add other chemicals. Special ingredients like hydrogen peroxide or sodium thiosulfate can immediately react with chlorine, reducing it. The first will act as a fast oxidizer, proving its efficiency when the pH registers more than 7.0. The latter has a slower process of burning chlorine but is offers efficiency in the long run.
If you do decide to utilize chemicals to bring the level back to balance, it is recommended to carefully monitor the water, so it won’t become acidic

Final Thoughts

Although over-chlorinized water can lead to harmful effects for your health, it is recommended to reduce the amounts of chlorine but not remove it completely from your pool. In small amounts, it is beneficial, as it is the main method of fighting against bacteria and microorganisms. However, if you’re not sure how to efficiently deal with your health symptoms, it is recommended to ask for the professional help of a doctor.

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