Blog Category: Pool Safety

Warning: If The Pool Smells Like Chlorine, Don't go Swimming!

Posted by: Pete the Pool Guy

Pool Maintenance Service Tampa Bay

Okay boys and girls I know what you're saying, "Here comes the next in the many internet myths I've read this week."
Sorry to disappoint you but this is a stone cold fact. You might be taking your life in your hands. Please don't ask me to list the diseases you can get from unsanitary water…it's just too depressing.

If you don't believe me you can click on the following link from the Vermont government:
http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/water/chloramine/documents/chloramine_Eichelsdoerfer.pdf

Or, try this link from the government in Australia: 
http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/environmental/control_chloramines.html

But, unless you are a chemistry wizard let me explain it in English.
I remember as a boy my mom would take us to the public swimming pool in Miami. As we pulled into the parking lot, the pungent smell of chlorine filled our noses.
"Ah," my mom would say inhaling what she thought was the protecting power of Chlorine, "I'm glad to see that they are servicing the pool. Wouldn't want you kids to get sick. Now grab the sugary sodas and my cigarettes and let's have fun."
Inevitably there were at least a 100 kids in a pool that was only approved for 80. But it was a hot summer Saturday and no 16 year-old lifeguard was going to spoil the day.
When I swam my eyes would burn, my clothes would smell "bleachy" and for days afterward I was tired. Sometimes I'd get an earache or Summer Flu.
Why?
Because that smell was not chlorine but chloramines. Properly chlorinated water has no smell. Chlorine molecules can combine with ammonia and nitrogen compounds in water to form chloramines.
By combining with ammonia and nitrogen, chlorine loses sanitizing power.
How do you get chloramines? Some of the ammonia and nitrogen are from swimmers perspiration, sweat, saliva, and fecal matter. An active swimmer sweats 1 pint per hour. Gross huh!
This combination of gunk is what chlorine is supposed to kill. If you smell something similar to chlorine you merely smell the unsanitized--- unburned out or destroyed--- nastiness listed above. That is what you smell!
By adding a mega dose of chlorine, usually 3 to 6 times more chlorine than the normal dose, you super chlorinate the water. That Mega-level of chlorine must be maintained a four hour period to remove the chloramines.
This is nearly impossible with multitudes of children coming in and out of a public swimming pool---doing as they do. 
As the day gets later, chloramines gets higher.  
Remember, if you smell a strong chlorine odor in the pool and your eyes are red, it's not because there is too much chlorine in the water but TOO LITTLE.
Internet rumor KILLED.
 

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