Is chlorine taking your breath?

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Swimming laps may work your lungs harder than you thought. After testing 41 trained swimmers, South African researchers found that 60% of those swimming in highly chlorinated water suffered the temporary constriction of airways known as exercise-induced asthma. When the docs checked people who swam in a pool chlorinated only half as much, just 20% had breathing difficulties. "Swimming has enormous physical benefits," says lead researcher Arthur J. Williams, MD. Rather than scare swimmers, Williams wants to alert them--especially those with asthma--to the potential risks. His advice:

• Check the chlorine Find a pool that maintains levels at the low end of the safe range (1 to 4 parts per million).

• Stay outdoors Indoor pools have limited ventilation. If chlorine bothers you, swim outdoors when possible.

• Investigate alternatives Pools in Europe and Africa have replaced chlorine with ultraviolet filtration systems. A few American universities have followed suit. If you live near a major facility, check it out.

PHOTO (COLOR): Pool chemicals can slow your swim

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By SY

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