Chlorine pools may seem to symbolize a relaxing pleasure activity for many, but a recent incident may force people to realize there is more to think about and a potentially a bigger issue than just a bothersome chlorine smell to their pool. There are dangers inherent in the procedural application of chlorine itself.
Adding chlorine to pools is a natural routine for pool owners but as Clinton Maynard demonstrated, the dangers of mishandling the chemical came with at an explosive cost to himself a few weeks ago.
He needed to bring his pool back to “a healthy sparkling blue.” Maynard was simply just doing regular maintenance to prevent the growth of algae, and potentially other bacteria, including E.coli within his pool. The lifespan of a pool not maintained properly could be cut in half. Maynard was just doing a maintenance chore that he had done over the past five years.
Chlorine pools have to be maintained on a regular schedule, and the incident that followed his last efforts resulted in shocking event that could give pool owners a great deal more to think about than the oftentimes off-putting chlorine smell.
The stabilized chlorine granules had been measured out into a bucket by his wife, and he went on to pour water into the bucket to begin mixing. After about half a minute, the mixture did something he never would have expected – it exploded.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald after the incident, he recalled the explosion was “a fairly big blast and then there were a series of other explosions afterwards, about five blasts.”
The chlorine mixture sprayed into his eyes and affected his lungs. Maynard was lucky enough to be rescued by his neighbors, who doused him with water before rushing off to the hospital, where he spent a week in the hospital’s intensive care unit before being released.
He feels there should be an obligation on the part of the chemical producers to educate their consumers in particular with the hazards of mixing the chemical, as his explosion had been caused by putting the chlorine in the bucket first, then adding water. Apparently, he had been “told years ago to add the chemicals the way we have done it for years.” In fact, it should have been done the other way around.
The usage of chlorine in swimming pools is widespread over North America, but its effects are more deleterious than what most people are aware of. Used in a widespread number of household products, its most common use is for disinfecting. Pool chlorine is associated with tooth enamel erosion, and the onset of asthma symptoms with long-term exposure to chlorinated pools, according to a study by Marywood University.
Alternatives to chlorine-based pools
Pam Glazer, a regular swimmer for over thirty years, reported to the New York Times that her constant sinus inflammations lead her to seek out alternatives to chlorine pools. She eventually found a system that combined the usage of ozone, copper and silver ions which she built into her home pool. At the time of the New York Times report, it came at a cost of about $20,000 more than the traditional chlorine pool.
However, the cost of building her pool was not even as difficult as it was finding a builder who would build it. She ended up taking a leap of faith, even after most of the builders told her that it was not going to work. It was eventually the company that she bought the ozone system from that flew in to help her supervise the installation.
And the results? Glazer has relished it, commenting, “It’s like swimming in bottled water.”
While the market for non-chlorinated pools has grown, it has not been without its challenges, including the widely held belief that chlorine continues to be the most effective solution for pool maintenance, as well as for economic reasons. However, it bodes well for those with chlorine pools to realize there is more to think about beyond the bothersome chlorine smell – there lies a serious responsibility to think about the inherent safety behind maintaining a chlorine pool.
By Joscelyne Yu