Swimming pool sanitation has largely been concerned with the microbiological quality of pool water, which is normally treated using a number of chlorine products. Recent studies have pointed to the potential hazards of chlorine by-products to the respiratory epithelium, particularly in indoor, poorly ventilated, pools. The aim of our study was to elucidate whether chronic exposure to indoor chlorinated swimming pools was associated with an increased likelihood of the development of asthma in boys.
Methods: The subjects were boys aged between 6 and 12 years. Data was collected by means of parental responses to a standardized asthma questionnaire (ISAAC: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood), supplemented with additional questions regarding frequency of attendance, number of years attendance, whether the child is a swimming team member. The questionnaire return rate was 71/% (n = 121). 23 boys were excluded on the basis that they had asthma before they started swimming (n = 97). There was a significant association between number of years a boy had been swimming and the likelihood of wheezing in the last 12 months (p = 0.009; OR = 1.351; 95% CI = 1.077-1.693) and diagnosed asthma (p = 0.046; OR = 1.299; 95% CI = 1.004-1.506). The greater the number the number of years a boy had been attending an indoor, chlorinated pool, the greater the likelihood of wheezing in the last 12 months or "had asthma". Age, parental smoking habits and being a swimming team member had no association with any of the asthma variables examined. Swimming pool attendance may be a risk factor in asthma in boys.