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Searching for the O-zone

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I have been struggling with an autoimmune disease called juvenile dermatomyositis for the last four years. With my condition, muscles lose a great amount of strength due to inflammation and become very weak, sore and tigh.

I have been struggling with an autoimmune disease called juvenile dermatomyositis for the last four years. With my condition, muscles lose a great amount of strength due to inflammation and become very weak, sore and tight.

I was 13 at the onset of my disease and so weak that I couldn't do anything by myself rise from a chair, comb my hair, even brush my teeth. I could only walk very short distances and needed somebody with me at all times. I required extensive physiotherapy and fortunately was able to use the Alberta Children's Hospital saline-chlorine physiotherapy pool. Gradually, I began to regain my strength and build muscles.

The reduced gravity in the water allows those with weak muscles to move more freely and at the same time provides resistance, like weightlifting on land. No other exercise uses so many muscles so fully. The water also helps to stretch the muscles, especially when warmer water is used. For me, it was amazing, like throwing a fish back into the sea! After needing help to do everything, I could finally lift up my scrawny arms and move!

Unfortunately, all that ended. My skin became too sensitive to pool chemicals. Although I'm getting better and the inflammation has greatly diminished, I can only occasionally go swimming and for short periods, because my skin is very sensitive to chlorine. Chlorine feels like tear gas and that's what it is first used in WWI!

Since then it has been used to kill bacteria and other pathogens in water, despite the fact that the US Environmental Protection Agency has proven that chlorine combines with organic waste to produce cancer-causing substances. Drinking chlorinated water has been linked to birth defects and neurological conditions. Other effects on our physiology are not fully known, yet we consume it daily.

The effects are appalling. Many people complain of itching skin and eyes and most people with dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis have to abandon pool swimming altogether. About three to four per cent of those who regularly use the pool suffers from the effects of chlorine compounds that lead to "swimming pool syndrome." The symptoms resemble a heavy cold. The answer is ozone.

Ozone Purifies

Ozone is electrically charged oxygen or O3 and is a better method of water purification. It's been used since 1893 in Holland. The US Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have both found that ozone destroys 99.99 percent of pathogens, including giardia (beaver fever) and cryptosporidium, both of which are resistant to chlorine.

Nearly 30,000 European pools incorporate ozone into their water treatment, reducing or eliminating the quantity of chlorine. The Sydney Olympic pool in Australia is ozone-treated. Studies have shown ozone to be 100 percent effective when a back-up system is used to control algae.

Three thousand cities worldwide, including Montreal, Que. and Coquitlam, BC, use ozone to purify drinking water. Los Angeles, Calif. is the world's largest, treating 600 million gallons daily. It was even introduced in Vancouver after cryptosporidium victims lobbied local governments with proof that in the long run, ozone treatment is cheaper. Victoria, BC is now also considering the change. There appears to be no interest in Alberta. Chlorine is cheaper.

Considering the health benefits for people with skin, muscle and joint problems, governments should approve and build ozone pools. My friends and I welcome your input into our small Alberta Ozone Action Network at kiralla@home.com.

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