Pool Care 101: Do You Really Need Chlorine?

If you own a pool, then you mostly know how it works – a pump sends water coursing through the entirety of the pool and a filtration system that makes sure that debris floating on the surface of the pool is removed from the water.

Then, through a pool vacuum, you can take care of whatever’s stuck at the bottom of the pool.

But the final step to cleaning a pool is often the most important, and the most questionable – that is, chlorine.

How Chlorine Works

The point of chlorine in pools is to prevent bacteria and algae from forming in the water and building on the surfaces of your pool. By itself, chlorine gas is a potent poison, with an especially notorious history in chemical warfare.

There are a number of health claims against it, however, especially in chronic use. Another danger is the accidental inhalation of too much chlorine while handling the product, or a leaking container.

Basically, once the chlorine hits the water, it breaks apart into several chemical components. These attack the cells by forcing them to oxidize.

Once the compounds’ jobs are done, they bind with other atoms and are rendered virtually harmless. But it’s not these compounds that are so worrying – it’s the accumulation of chlorine gas above a pool that is hazardous to your health.

What the Science Says

A study in the National Library of Medicine from 2015 by JH Li and a number of other Chinese scholars shows that, in addition to respiratory symptoms, chlorinated pools are particularly dangerous to people’s eyes and noses, and cause hair loss with chronic exposure.

What Alternatives Exist?

Chlorine isn’t the only way to keep a pool from developing copious amounts of algae and bacteria. Another way to do it is through a chlorine free pool shock – an ozone-based treatment offered by companies like Clearwater Pool Systems. This uses ozone, or O3, which kills bacteria rapidly but quickly dissipates into oxygen molecules in the water, rendered completely harmless.

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