While Southerners can enjoy swimming year-round, most Americans are limited to summer pool season—and that means pool chemical season, too.
have to swim The Fifth Most Popular Leisure Activity in America According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the No. 1 activity for children and teens, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With all commercial and domestic pools and spas in use, that adds up to a lot of chemicals.
A few words about chlorine
Chemicals, especially chlorine, are needed to clean pools because they keep the water clean and keep us all safe. Chlorine kills E. coli within 60 seconds and hepatitis A within 45 minutes. Other bacteria and viruses are more stubborn. For example, Cryptosporidium can survive in water for up to 10 days. This emphasizes why it is important to properly care for your pool and treat it with chemicals to adequately eliminate bacteria and viruses.
It is important to maintain a pH balance between acidity and alkalinity.
- Excessive chlorine can damage PVC piping and other pool equipment, cause red eyes and dry skin.
- Underchlorinated pool enables growth and survival of bacteria and viruses
- Water that is more acidic or caustic can promote cloudy water, sagging pool liners and itchy skin.
- Water with very low pH inhibits the effectiveness of chlorine
- Water that is too acidic can corrode and corrode metal equipment and pool surfaces.
Chemical substitutes and drawbacks
Although chlorine is the most recognizable pool water chemical, muriatic acid can be used to lower the pH. Sodium thiosulfate can be used to reduce chlorine levels. Other pool water chemicals play a role: algaecide, fungicides, stain removers, shockers, etc. All of these chemicals need to be handled and stored safely. Many pool products can cause severe eye irritation, burns, and damage to the lungs and skin if handled incorrectly. Follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions.
Little-known fact: During the 2021 pool season, we will face the biggest chlorine tablet shortage in history. The pandemic led to an increase in home pool installations and increased demand for chlorine tablets, while a major fire at one in three chlorine tablet producers contributed to the shortage.
Chlorine tablets help maintain the level of chlorine in the water. Stabilization pills containing cyanuric acid (CYA) are especially important in the hot summer sun to help prevent the sun from breaking down chlorine levels. And tablets stay in suspension longer than powdered chlorine.
We are always interested in safety and unintended consequences. The risk with a shortage of chlorine tablets is that people may run out of tablets and be forced to use powdered chlorine, cutting down on the number of floating tablets needed for the size of their pool or all liquids. Chlorine has to be used.
All chemical reactions expose the water to imbalance and potential pool damage and human disease. what can we do?
- Keep dogs out of the pool. A single dog is equivalent to 50 swimmers, which reduces the level of chlorine available.
- Take a shower before entering the pool. There is a lack of chlorine from the oil on the skin.
- Switch to a saltwater pool. Saltwater pools produce their own chlorine through electrolysis, but saltwater is corrosive to the metal.
- Install ozone or ionization treatment equipment. It can be expensive.
- Use powdered chlorine. This form of the chemical does not clean as effectively as tablets because it may need to be added more often. It must also be diluted in water before being added to the pool.
- Install a mineral system. Although they reduce the amount of chlorine needed by 50%, mineral systems are less harsh on pool equipment and surfaces. The mineral system is the easiest sanitation system to maintain.
- Use liquid chlorine if necessary. This is a less attractive option because it takes up more storage space than necessary or requires frequent trips to the pool store. Since it is premixed, it is also highly corrosive.
Despite the lack of sanitation systems and chlorine tablets, keep in mind that low pool water exposes you and others to illness. If you can’t get chlorine tablets, talk to your pool professional about alternatives. Do not put your health at risk by swimming in contaminated water. Remember, just because water looks clear doesn’t mean it’s safe!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
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