Chlorine is the most widespread chemical used to keep swimming pools, jacuzzis and hot tubs free of bacteria. However, many people have experienced the adverse side effects of chlorine (such as eye irritation) and wonder why exactly this substance is used in the first place. To help clarify this, below are answers to some common chlorine-related questions you may have:
Why Do Swimming Pools Require Chlorine?
The most important reason for using chlorine in pools is to kill bacteria. Specifically, chlorine has two vitally important chemicals that help regulate the pool's bacteria and keep the area free from nasty organisms. The first, hypochlorous acid, kills bacteria as soon as the chlorine is mixed into the water. The second, hypochlorite ion, remains in the pool water and kills any new bacteria that are brought into the pool.
As swimmers come and go, they will bring new bacteria into the pool that will become entrained in the water supply. As such, it is important to have a healthy supply of chlorine in the water to keep the water safe for use throughout the day.
Does Chlorine Pose Any Health Risks?
The chlorine found in regular swimming pools does not pose any threats to your health. This is because the chlorine is kept at precisely the right amount to kill bacteria while not posing any health risks. However, if you are installing a pool of your own, it's important to understand that too much chlorine can cause health problems.
The most common problem experienced by over-chlorination is irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. The reason for this is that, when swimming, you produce a significant amount of sweat and other organic compounds. These react negatively with chlorine, causing your skin to feel itchy and your eyes to become red and sore.
If you accidentally swallow water that has been treated with too much chlorine, the mixture can cause the formation of hydrochloric acids. These compounds are extremely toxic and can lead to what is known as chlorine poisoning.
Chlorine poisoning can be highly dangerous to your body if the concentration of chlorine is particularly high. The symptoms experienced will vary between case; however, there are a number of common problems associated with chlorine poisoning:
- Burning at the back of the throat or around the mouth.
- Stomach pain and nausea.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Blood in the stool.
As such, if you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to contact your medical practitioner immediately.
What Can Be Used in Place of Chlorine?
If you are particularly sensitive to chlorine, you may wish to use an alternative treatment to remove bacteria from your swimming pool. At present, the two most commonly used alternatives are ozone generators and UV-light filtration.
Ozone is a highly effective chemical for fighting bacteria because it a strong oxidiser, meaning it can be used in water sanitisation. In contrast with chlorine, however, ozone can only be used to treat water before it is used. This means that the chemical does not offer any of the residual cleaning properties offered by chlorine.
UV stands for ultraviolet, which is a form of light used to kill existing bacteria. This form of light lies just outside the visible light spectrum; however, when it is shone on certain compounds, it causes a chemical reaction. With UV-light filtration, these chemical reactions and harnessed to sanitize pool water and make it suitable for use. However, as with ozone generators, UV-light filtration does not offer any of the residual cleaning properties that chlorine does.
Both of the above treatments can be used to a similar effect as chlorine. This will take away any of the adverse effects you have experienced due to chlorine exposure while keeping your swimming pool clean and free from bacteria. For more information about maintaining your pool, contact a local pool service like Imperial Paddock Pools Ltd.