Question: Bromine is now frequently used in place of chlorine in swimming pools. Does swimming pool exposure carry the same risk as dietary bromine?
Dr. Brownstein's Answer:
That is a good question. Unfortunately, I do not have a concrete answer, but I will do my best. There are no studies that show that swimming in a brominated pool carries the same risk as ingesting bromine. However there is no known therapeutic value of bromine. In fact, bromine exposure has been shown to competitively inhibit iodine in the body. In other words, if you are exposed to excess bromine, iodine will be eliminated from the body and replaced by bromine.
Bromine is a known goitrogen and has no known role in human health. And bromine can be absorbed through the skin. So swimming in a brominated pool undoubtedly would cause bromine levels to rise in the body. The easiest way to protect yourself from bromine in pools is to ensure that you have adequate iodine intake. If you have adequate iodine intake, exposure to bromine will not result in a problem.
I have had many patients react negatively to brominated swimming pool water. When I have them increase their iodine intake, however, these negative reactions often clear up. So, if you are going to be exposed to bromine, I suggest ensuring that your iodine intake is high enough to overcome this exposure. Following your iodine levels with simple urinary tests can show if you are moving in the right direction.