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Swimming pool disinfectants linked to asthma and cancer


Swimming during the summer months is a great way to get exercise, but you might think twice about your choice of pool. Researchers from Yale and the University of Illinois found that organic matter - from decaying leaves, microbes, sweat, hair, skin and (yes) urine - interact with popular disinfectants to generate toxic byproducts. Cosmetics and sunscreens are also perpetrators:

These consumer products are often nitrogen-rich, causing concern that they may contribute to the generation of nitrogenous disinfection byproducts... When mixed with disinfectants, these products may become chemically modified and converted into more toxic agents. These disinfection byproducts can mutate genes, induce birth defects, accelerate the aging process, cause respiratory ailments, and even induce cancer after long-term exposures.

The study, which examined genomic damage to mammalian cells under various disinfection methods and environmental conditions, was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Photo by Lee Coursey

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