Chlorine Free Swimming Pools

by Pool Builders on 03-30-2008 in Articles

Sir Humphrey Davy can take credit for naming the toxic gas chlorine in 1810. The cities of Chicago and Jersey City began using chlorine for water treatment in 1908. Before the use of chlorine for sanitation, the presence of cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and hepatitis A in drinking water killed thousands of people annually. Chlorination and filtration of drinking water virtually eliminated those diseases. Since the introduction of chlorine into the field of water treatment, it has been widely accepted as the safest and most effective manner of water sanitation.

Recently, however, chlorine has been implicated in a variety of health concerns. Studies have linked exposure to chlorine in swimming pools and spas to childhood asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chlorine may be a carcinogen; links have also been proposed between chlorine exposure and certain types of cancer, including bladder and colorectal, as well as atherosclerosis. Concerns have been raised about a link between chlorine in the environment (in the form of DDT and PCBs) and disruptions in the reproductive and hormonal systems of animals and humans. Chlorinated chemicals in the environment have poisoned fish and rendered birds sterile in the Great Lakes area.

The side effects of swimming or soaking in heavily chlorinated water are well known. Many swimmers complain of dry, scaly skin and red, irritated eyes. Chlorine discolors hair and fabrics and is corrosive to pool equipment and accessories. Some people find the smell of chlorine in the air around pool and spa areas to be unpleasant, even unbearable. Many people have developed sensitivities to chlorine and have found it necessary to either avoid pools and spas or pursue the alternative sanitation methods mentioned here.

Concerned pool and spa operators are looking for methods of water sanitation that reduce or eliminate the dependency on chlorine. The pool and spa industry has answered this desire to move away from toxic chemical use with several different options. Although none of the options available on the market can completely eliminate the use of chlorine, as most systems require merely a residual level of chlorine in the water, they can drastically reduce the amount of chlorine necessary, usually from 1.0 - 3.0 parts per million (ppm) to 0.2 -0.6 ppm.

Ozone generators inject ozone gas into the water as it passes through the pump. Ionizers use mineral sanitation, usually copper or silver, both known for their anti-bacterial properties, to kill bacteria and viruses present in the pool or spa water as it passes through an ionization device. Catalytic sanitation units use oxidation and natural minerals to kill bacteria, viruses and algae. Biguanide chemicals are chlorine replacements. Biguanides provide a higher quality of water than chlorine, and are not as caustic as chlorine or bromine.

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