GreenYour Swimming pool
Use natural alternatives to pool chemicals
Each year, chlorine is losing its place in pools as eco- and health-savvy swimmers realize that toxic materials used by previous generations can be replaced with more sound methods. Using natural alternatives to chemicals to clean the water in your pool aids in removing damaging chlorine from the air and the groundwater. It also keeps it away from your body, where it can also cause harm.
Types of natural water purification
Thanks to new chemical technology, chlorine and other harsh chemicals are no longer needed to clean swimming pools. Although new natural systems of water purification temporarily convert the natural chemical makeup of water, most of these systems—as described below—still require that water be “shocked” or super-cleaned after a season or a rainstorm. And some don't totally eliminate the use of chlorine, but can drastically reduce the amounts added. Anxious to plunge back into your backyard swimming hole? These systems are easily converted over from chlorine within a couple of weeks or less.
- Saltwater: With this system, salt is used in a small proportion—not enough to even notice. The salt cleans water when broken down by electrolysis, resulting in a natural, bacteria-killing, non-threatening form of chlorine. The chlorine then reconverts to salt, which begins the process again. Since saltwater is self-cleaning, no other purifiers or chemicals are needed.
- Ionization:: An ionic pool cleaner unleashes copper and silver to kill bacteria and stop algae growth. Ionization occurs when water molecules are converted into ions from the infusion of small amounts of metals. These metals dispense from cartridges that are put into the filter of the pool or solar devices that float on the water.
- Oxidation: During oxidation, water produces ozone, a strong disinfectant that's safe enough to be used in many drinking water systems. Oxidation requires a generator outside the pool that uses either ultraviolet light (which is how the sun produces ozone with water in nature) or electricity (which is how lighting produces ozone).
- Sonic waves: Believe it or not, particular sound waves can kill pesky algae and contaminants. Relatively new, sonic wave cleaning systems require a device that emits a complex system of sound waves to be placed underwater. This causes algae cells to resonate and break much like a glass breaks from high-pitched sound.
- Purifying plants:Plants can be carefully chosen to create a filter that keeps pool water clean. Specific plants enrich the pool with oxygen, support beneficial bacteria that consume debris and potentially harmful organisms, and deprive algae of nutrients. A traditional swimming pool can be converted to this kind of natural pool by landscaping close to the pool.
Before you take the plunge
While it’s certainly possible to go chlorine-free, just know that you may be swimming against the current, if you will. Many in the pool industry remain skeptical of alternate disinfection modes and believe that chlorine is the best sanitation method. If you're putting in a new pool, you may find it difficult to find builders to install an alternative system. Likewise, once the system is in place, you may have a tough time finding pool maintenance personnel willing to work with it. But on the flip side, these alternative technologies have experienced rising popularity in recent years.
Find it! Natural alternatives to pool chemicals
When considering different pool cleaning systems, it helps to look for those certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Water Quality Association, or the National Sanitation Foundation.
Blue Diamond's Ozone Water Treatment System releases ozone swimming pools and draws water molecules through the filter, which cleans and clarifies the water continuously. It also helps to reduce impurities in the water such as algae, bacteria, colors, and odors.
Add a specified amount of salt to your pool's water, and Intex's generator will electronically convert the salts to chlorine ions. There's no need to continuously add chemicals and this method will not cause itchy skin and eyes.
Zodiac's Nature2 pool cleaning systems harness mineral technology to inhibit bacteria growth, eliminate contaminants, and can cut chlorine use by 50-80 percent. Systems for both above-ground and in-ground pools are available.
Using natural alternatives to pool chemicals helps you go green because...
- You are keeping chlorine from evaporating into the air where it eats away at the ozone layer and bonds to form hazardous byproducts like dioxins.
- You prevent chlorine from entering wastewater systems, which then enters streams and waterways.
- You'll be swimming in water that is free of chlorine and the risk of itchy skin, increased asthma, and possible long-term health effects.
- Less maintenance is required.
- You’ll save money by not buying chemicals; this is especially true since the cost of chlorine has gone up greatly over the last few years.
- The water will feel softer and (with saltwater pools) silkier. It will also appear naturally clear and sparkling.
About 10 million metric tons of chlorine is manufactured in the US each year for everything from bleaching paper to producing pesticides. In the upper atmosphere, chlorine molecules from air pollution eat up ozone; in the lower atmosphere, they bond with carbon to form organochlorines, which include hazardous compounds like DDT, PCBs, chloroform, and dioxins. The EPA has found dioxin to be 300,000 times more potent a carcinogen than DDT, and it's believed to be one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to science. Because of chlorine pollution, Americans ingest a daily amount of dioxin that's already 300 to 600 times greater than the EPA's "safe" dose.
Chlorine is such a dangerous gas in high concentrations that it has been used as a weapon (mustard gas) and still is to this day. By removing chlorine from your pool, you are taking an average of 500-700 gallons of chlorine per year out of the environment: from the air, water, and soil.
Related health issues
The chlorine used in swimming pools can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and has shown to have negative effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that byproducts can arise when chlorine comes into contact with common organic matter such as dirt and dandruff, and can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Chlorine poses possible damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system, as well an increased risk of birth defects. Pool chlorine exposure has been found to worsen and even trigger asthma. Other respiratory problems, eye irritation, and rashes are also common side effects.
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