Ask-the-Expert Online Conference
- Question from MarshaF: Does the chlorine in swimming pools promote breast cancer?
- Answers - Devra Davis Well, it prevents cholera! :-) We have improved our ability to reduce the amount of free radicals and other byproducts of chlorine right now. But again, there's no question that when you chlorinate water, you do create byproducts that have been shown to increase certain types of cancer. But if we did not treat our swimming pools, we would have outbreaks of infectious diseases. So the challenge is to treat our pools with limited residual chlorine byproducts and there are ways to do that now. These are widely available, and people should ask their municipal water suppliers to tell them they are using the best and latest technologies.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. What about baby diapers in swimming pools?
- Devra Davis We can't escape germs, and we shouldn't even try to do so. In fact, one concern I have about bactericidal soaps is that they have been shown to increase susceptibility to common bacteria in life. We need some exposure to bacteria for our immune systems. But having said that, I'm appalled that some people don't realize that when you go into a hot tub, you should be clean. Also, you should NEVER think of taking an infant in a diaper into a hot tub. It would be like swimming in a little cesspool.
- Sue Heffelfinger The temperature alone is not good for a child in a hot tub!
- Devra Davis I can't imagine subjecting a child to the stress of dehydration in a hot tub. It's appalling that people don't understand that it would be bad for the child as well for everyone else, since e.coli bacteria is transmitted by feces.
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