European Respiratory Society

Outdoor swimming pools and the risks of asthma and allergies during adolescence

A. Bernard, M. Nickmilder, C. Voisin


Exposure to indoor chlorinated swimming pools can be detrimental to the airways of swimmers and increase asthma risks but it is unknown whether these effects concern outdoor pools.

The present study examined 847 secondary school adolescents who had attended residential or nonresidential outdoor chlorinated pools at a variable rate. The main outcomes were: ever asthma (physician-diagnosed at any time); current asthma (ever asthma under medication and/or with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction); elevated exhaled nitric oxide; and aeroallergen-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E in serum.

The prevalence of ever and current asthma significantly increased with the lifetime number of hours spent in outdoor pools by up to four and eight times, respectively, among adolescents with the highest attendance (>500 h) and a low exposure to indoor pools (<250 h). Odds for asthma were significantly increased among adolescents with total serum IgE >25 kIU·L−1, on average by 1–2 units for each 100-h increase in pool attendance. Use of residential outdoor pools was also associated with higher risks of elevated exhaled nitric oxide and sensitisation to cat or house dust mite allergens.

Outdoor chlorinated swimming pool attendance is associated with higher risks of asthma, airways inflammation and some respiratory allergies.


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