Why Chlorine Is A Problem & How To Reduce Exposure

Now that the weather is consistently warmer here in California (you know we natives are only comfortable when it’s 75-85℉!), my family is spending more time at the pool.  I know, it’s easier to not think about things like the hazards of chlorine and just try to have fun. But the dangers extend far beyond uncomfortable red eyes, stringy green hair, and smelly swimsuits.  For your family’s health and wellbeing, you’ll want to learn how to reduce exposure to chlorine.

Why You Should Reduce Exposure to Chlorine

What’s there to worry about?

Well, first of all, children who swim often in chlorinated indoor pools are more likely to suffer from allergies and asthma later on it life.

There’s also the unpleasant reaction between chlorine and uric acid from the urine that is ubiquitous in public pools. Cyanogen chloride (CNCl) and trichloramine (NCl3) are the toxic byproducts of this reaction. Cyanogen chloride harms many organs, including the heart and central nervous system when inhaled. Both compounds have been associated with lung injuries.

Additionally, there’s an increase in bladder cancer that’s associated with long-term exposure to THMs (trihalomethanes, a common disinfectant by-product) from ingesting, bathing, showering, and swimming in chlorinated water. That’s right, the chlorine in swimming pools is not the only danger, but the levels of chlorine in our tap water are also a problem.

Chlorine is also contributing to the increase in leaky gut in our nation. Think about it – there’s no doubt that chlorine is super effective at killing microorganism in the water, so what do you think it’s doing to our skin & gut flora? By killing beneficial bacteria that our body needs to maintain a healthy immune system, opportunistic organisms like Candida can take over or one can succumb to the many chronic illnesses that are caused by reduced gut flora.

Believe it or not, there’s more. The chlorine in our water (in addition to fluoride) is damaging the health of our delicate thyroid glands.

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Chlorine

Luckily, there are many options for minimizing chlorine exposure that will help put your mind at ease:

Swim outdoors

You’ll still be dealing with the issue of chlorine penetrating the skin and possibly affecting the gut, but at least the gas fumes are much less than swimming in an indoor pool.

Swim in the ocean or a lake instead

These are the healthiest options for everyone as long as the water is unpolluted and if you don’t mind swimming with the fish!

Use pools with safer sanitation methods

Saltwater pools are becoming more popular, so you might be able to find a public one in your area. They’re only slightly safer than standard chlorine-treated pools since the sodium chloride crystals are converted to chlorine gas, so inhaling it is still an issue. Ozone-treated pools seem to be a better option. Even though some chlorine might still need to be used, the amount can be cut down significantly.

Consider a house filter for tap water

There are many filters on the market, so you’ll have to do your research on what works for your situation. We use this filter to remove chlorine & fluoride from our drinking water. We’re still in the process of getting a filter for the shower and bath. I’ll be sure to update this post with what we bought and what my impressions after we’ve used them for sometime.

Shower & bathe with plenty of ventilation

Steamy hot showers & baths feel good, but you don’t want to be inhaling chloride gas in the steam. Having a window and the door open can certainly help you inhale less.

Take Vitamin C

Did you know Vitamin C is a safe and beneficial option for neutralizing chlorine? It’s used in some water filters and even known by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Forest Service to be an effective means of treating wastewater systems. Taking vitamin C internally is also a wonderful way to neutralize the chlorine absorbed into your body.

Shower first before swimming

With your hair and skin already damp from the shower, supposedly, less chlorine is soaked in through the skin while swimming, though not as helpful if you’re already getting a dose of chlorine from an unfiltered shower.

Apply a vitamin C lotion before and after swimming

For those of you interested in DIY solutions, you may want to try out this vitamin C lotion recipe that I found in this Wellness Mama article about minimizing chlorine exposure:



  1. Melt the oils (and shea butter, if using) together in a double boiler on the stovetop.
  2. Dissolve the vitamin C in warm water.
  3. Transfer the oils to a blender, or a small container if you choose to use an immersion blender.
  4. Add ~ 20 drops of any blend of essential oils to the container with the other oils.
  5. While blending, pour in the vitamin C solution and stop when completely emulsified.
  6. Store in a container in a cool place.

I’m sorry if this post has put a damper on your summer fun, but I care about educating parents on healthy living, and that includes awareness about environmental toxins.

I’m also glad I wrote this because it’s motivating me to make changes here at home and in the community. I’ll definitely become more involved in advocacy to remove chlorine (and fluoride) from our tap water, because this method of sanitation is outdated and dangerous!

I’m interested to know – Is chlorine a concern of yours? If so, what have you done to minimize exposure? Please share with all of us concerned parents in the comments!

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Brandy Falcon L.Ac.

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