Pool Water Chemistry - An Important Aspect in Swimming Pool Care

Pool water chemistry of swimming pool is very important when it comes to swimming pool care. It helps to keep the water of your swimming pool clean and safe. Without proper balancing of the water in your swimming pools and spa, their is a serious health threat to some of your pool swimmers.

Irrespective of our efforts to maintain good swimming pool water quality, many of our pool and spa users can become very ill from some of the pool and spa chemicals that are used in the industry.

Many of these pool bathers can not be in the chemically treated water for too long. Because they are highly sensitive to the pool chemicals used for sanitation of the water.

As a pool operator/manager, I get a lot of calls from folks prior to their vacation, requesting information on the type of pool chemicals (mainly chlorine) we use for our sanitation process.

They simply want to know if our swimming pools are safe enough for them to use with the chlorine level while they are on vacation. As we will see, not all illnesses are related to micro organisms (pathogens) or swimming pool contamination.

Swimming Pool Water Chemistry Health Concerns

As I mentioned earlier, we have received calls from individuals or representatives of individuals coming on vacation, inquiring about the type of pool and spa chemicals used in our sanitation process. They know that prolong exposure to certain disinfecting chemicals and their by products, can cause them to become ill.

Some of these recreational water illnesses that are cause for health concerns include:

  • Bromine itch. Many private and public swimming pool facilities use bromine tablets as part of their sanitizing methods. Unfortunately there are cases, although rare, where swimmers have developed dermatitis. This is a condition that is indicated by a rash or itchy skin. 

In some instances, multiple exposure have lead to the development of eczema. The frequency at which bromine itch occurs, increases with age and is uncommon with children. As I have indicated above, the main symptom for this condition is itching.

The swimming pool rash that is associated with this chemical pool sanitizer, usually becomes apparent in about 12 hours after exposure to it.

Preventing Bromine Itch

To safe guard the swimmers of your swimming pool from bromine itch require you as the pool operator to:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instruction for the use of all pool chemicals.
  • Maintain your bromine levels within the required ranges.
  • Periodically treat your pool or spa water with oxidizing agents and clarifiers.
  • Chloramines. Not all swimmers that use your swimming pool or spa will come out of the water to use the restrooms. What do I mean by this statement? Well, to be honest with you, most of your bathers will urinate in your pool or spa. Whenever someone does this, ammonia compounds are released into the pool water.
  • The ammonia compounds then reacts with the chlorine residual present in the water.

    As a result of this reaction, chloramines are developed.

    The developed chloramines are the cause of the chlorine smell (odor) in the surrounding air of your swimming pool facility.

    Chloramines will also contribute to the overall combined chlorine levels in your swimming pools. Consequently, the combined chlorine levels are the caused of irritations to the eyes and mucous membranes of swimming pool users. We commonly referred to this condition as burning eyes.

    Disinfection by-products. Whenever disinfectants such as chlorine and bromine are used in pool water chemistry, they react with contaminants in the pool water and kill micro organisms. Still it is a known fact that when chlorine and bromine react with contaminants found in water, a disinfection by-product is produced. 

    Statistics reveal that most of these by-products, can cause cancer or other serious health problems for some individuals. Especially if they have been exposed to these by-products for long periods of time.

    Trihalomethanes. Trihalomethanes will exist in your swimming pool or spa environment, when your disinfectants react with any organic contaminants that contain carbon atoms. The atoms usually come from swimmers, cosmetics, and the environment. With your pool water chemistry, chlorine compounds will react with the contaminants to form chloromethanes which is another name for trihalomethanes.

     We also refer to this problem as chloroform. When you use bromine as your pool water sanitizer, bromo-chloromethane or bromomethane chemicals are formed. This formation is also known as bromoform. Trihalomethanes can be prevented in your swimming pool water as well as in the air above it.

    A pool bather becomes exposed to this condition through direct skin contact with the water, by swallowing the water from the pool , or through direct inhalation. Currently health issues associated with trihalomethanes in swimming pools are very low.

    Eradicating DBPs Associated With Pool Water Chemistry

    Any pre-cautionary measures or practices used to minimize the amount of swimming pool water contaminants, can help reduce their by-products. The three factors listed below, will help you to control the amount of dirt and contaminants from the environment and bathers.

    They are as follows:

    • Good swimming pool and spa filtration.
    • Good swimming pool water chemistry.
    • Good swimming pool and spa water circulation.

    Likewise, as an added measure, ensure that your facility has a good ventilation system.

    This will help remove any contaminants that may have evaporated into the air from your pool water chemistry.

    Pool water chemistry that is poorly maintained, causes waterborne illnesses to develop!

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