Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Why I Think Indoor Pools Cause Asthma


I had been a distance runner for 4 years when I had my first asthma attack, so I don’t think it was “about the running”. However, 95%+ of my asthma attacks over the years have occurred while running.

The attack occurred while I was running at a comfortable pace on a cold day. However, it is unlikely that the cold weather caused the attack because I had already been running for about an hour and was fully warmed up.

Suddenly it felt that something had become lodged in my upper chest. My heart began to race (I’ve since recorded pulse rates above 220 when these happen). I made the mistake of trying to continue running as the attack occurred. This flooded my body with lactic acid, causing my muscles to tighten. Since then I’ve learned that if I immediately stop running and let the attack pass, it is sometimes possible to continue running without negative effects in a minute or two.

I continued to have an attack about once/month in my teen years. The frequency of attacks decreased as I got older. I’m in my 30s now and usually don’t experience more than one per year.

Using an inhaler never seemed to make a difference for me.

I have no family history of asthma.

So, what caused it??

Approximately 8 months before this first attack, I began regular swim training at an indoor pool. Before that, my sessions at indoor pools had been very few. I never made a connection until I saw the European research last year that showed that the incidence of asthma increased proportionately with the number of indoor pools. -marathon


  1. When our pediatrician first diagnosed Sam with asthma, he warned me to be particularly careful during swimming season because swimming in general tends to exacerbate asthma, a fact which we found to be true with Sam. I hadn’t heard that indoor pools were worse, but we haven’t had that much experience with indoor pools, though it makes sense, particularly in light of the increased opportunity for mildew and mold growth in indoor pool areas. I have also read recently a suggested corelation between chlorine and increased asthma attacks. Interesting. What is it that makes indoor pools worse than outdoor in regard to asthma?

  2. admin

    June 16, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Hey willa! I think the asthma issue is related to the chlorine that builds up in the air of an indoor pool facility, rather than the mold/mildew. When you walk into an aquatic building, you get that strong odor of chlorine. And if the ventilation system is just a closed loop, it all stays put. Whereas an outdoor pool, if it’s not surrounded by high walls/buildings, would have all that blow away.

    Just found this article reinforcing all this:

  3. That makes a lot of sense. Breathe in chlorine, mess up the efficiency of your lungs. Seems so obvious now that you spell it out :).

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