Chlorine in Your Swimming Pool - A Short History

by Pool Builders on 09-16-2009 in Articles

You may remember chlorine as being something that cropped up in a chemistry lesson at high school. You may even remember that it has the atomic number 17. But are you also aware just how important and effective it is at keeping literally millions of swimmers safe from bacteria and disease the world over?

Today, chlorine is commonly used in swimming pools to rid the water of harmful bacteria and algae which are by products of having lots of people sharing a giant bath tub! If it weren't for chlorine cleansing of water, who knows what nasty bugs and diseases we would be exposed to in our local swimming pool.

The natural form of chlorine is as a gas with a yellowish hue. To the untrained, chlorine is a hazardous chemical to work with and it must be used with extreme caution. Chlorine has had rather a bad name over the years and it's easy to see why. It was notoriously used in the First World War on both sides and caused horrific injuries and disfigurements to soldiers in the trenches. It's use was discovered by a scientist by the name of Fritz Haber. Haber hailed from the Wilhelm Institute in Berlin and the gas was first used by German forces in warfare in 1915.

With the introduction of gas masks, it's use became less common and it was eventually fazed out in favor of the more deadly mustard gas. Chlorine gas has been used most recently in the Iraq conflict and has caused terrible injuries to those unfortunate enough to come into contact with it.

Chlorine in swimming pools has also been blamed for a number of medical ailments, namely respiratory problems, skin rashes, eye irritation, bladder cancer and miscarriages. It should be noted however, that apart from mild eye or skin irritation, none of these problems have been clinically proved to be directly related to chlorine use in swimming pools. Although, to be on the safe side, it's advisable to always handle chlorine tablets or granules extremely carefully and always read the manufacturer's instructions when dispensing the tablets in your pool, spa or Jacuzzi.

One of the main alternatives to chlorine use is ozone. Ozone has been more popular in Europe than the US for the cleaning of water, and as such, any attempt to introduce it state-side would be extremely costly to the individual pool owner as well as any state bodies wishing to change over. Ozone is however, more environmentally friendly that it's chemical counterpart, so as we move into a more eco-friendly age, perhaps this will be the choice of the future.

When used correctly, however, this particular kind of sanitization can provide you with a clean and safe water leisure facility for your family and friends to enjoy.

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