We’ve always been told to cover ourselves in sunscreen before we get in the pool. Anyone who has ever neglected to do that knows that, if they stay out in the water too long, they’ll probably end up with sunburn.
But new research suggests that when swimming in a chlorinated pool, you might be causing more problems than you are solving. They study focused on avobenzone, which the New York Post describes as the most popular sun-blocker in the world. The sun-blocker is used in lipsticks, creams, moisturizers and other cosmetics because it can absorb UV rays from the sun.
However, the study showed that the combination of the chlorinated water and UV rays caused avobenzone to break down into to chemicals, two of which—acetyl benzenes and phenols—have been connected to infertility, immune system, and cancer.
Researchers said they also feared further risk to consumers if their pool water contained copper salts, which are sometimes put in pools to make them look blue.
So the answer is: maybe and sometimes.
Of course, further research will have to be done to confirm the data and conclusions. But until then, it might be a good idea to use sunscreens that don’t have avobenzone when swimming in chlorinated water.