EWWWW, That Smell. That Chlorine Smell.

April 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Pool Chemistry | Leave a comment
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Roseanne from Kansas City, Mo,  was apparently appalled by my last post–the one about peeing in the pool.  She emailed the following question:

Dear Pool Master.  Your post about urinating in public swimming pools was disgusting.  Who does this? If you didn’t have the scientific proof noted, I would have screamed, “BALDERDASH!”  Every Thursday with a group of senior ladies, we exercise in our indoor public pool.( I’m sure these ladies would never let something slip from their bodies!  They are real ladies.)  And because our public pool has such a strong odor of chlorine, I’m going to assume that this bladder cancer and asthma threat in a urine-infested swimming pool doesn’t hold weight here. 

Please don’t put in a picture of senior ladies in a pool and ask who is the urine-spilling criminal.  Thanks.  Roseanne.

__________________________Roseanne's Swimming Club

Roseanne: The good news is that I could not find any free photos of lovely retired women swimming.  That bad news:  incontinence.  Sorry.

The really really bad news is: “That chlorine smell” is not chlorine that you are smelling.  You are smelling chloramine.  Chloramine is a by products of chlorine for disinfection and ammonia from human sources.  A healthy dose of chloramine will present your with any or all of these symptoms:  cough, eye irritation, and rash.  

If you think I’m full of hooey, go to this website, or just check out the quote I lifted from the site:  http://www.waterandhealth.org/newsletter/cleaning_air.html



Chronic chloramines and the associated smell and irritation are caused by a variety of factors. Despite what many swimmers assume, the major cause of these problems is too little free chlorine rather than too much! “Free” chlorine, used to kill germs and help prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses, also oxidizes natural waste products from swimmers, including sweat, body oil, urine and other ammonia-nitrogen compounds. If the free chlorine levels are not sufficiently high to oxidize these nitrogenous wastes, the free chlorine combines with them to form noxious cholarmine compounds…

The Fix-It

“Shock” more often with free chlorine. Shock treatment involves raising the free chlorine level to at least 10 times higher than the combined chlorine level.

 Weekly is best for most pools but it may be required even more often for extremely heavily used pools.


Use a non-chlorine shocking agent like the monopersulfate-based oxidizers. These reduce chloramines without adding chlorine.

Many pool operators find alternating between traditional chlorine and the non-chlorine shocking agents works best.


You get the point, and the writer of the above link is dead-on with the reason why that “chlorine-smell” is a baaaaaad mamma-jamma, Momma. 

Gee, if public pools could use my chlorine-free disinfection system, this chloramine  business would so not relate.  But that’s just another blatant self-promotion.  If you are curious, check it out at www.riptidealchemy.com.

BTW, just got in some great questions about spa repairs and leaking motors.  I’ll get those answers up ASAP.


Peeing in the Swimming Pool & Bladder Cancer! My Worst Nightmare.

April 3, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Posted in Pool Chemistry | 1 Comment
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Which kids are peeing in the pool?

Which kids are peeing in the pool?


Let it be known that I DO NOT SWIM IN PUBLIC POOLS.  The following news piece recently crossed my desk and ripped open my nightmare of being tossed into a public swimming pool that’s not blue, but a golden urine-yellow.  That’s right, folks, good, old-fashioned pee in the pool.

That combined with everyone else’s body yuck, and the fact that most public pool maintenance dudes are not necessarily the swiftest water skimmers, I DO NOT SWIM IN PUBLIC POOLS.  BTW I’m an expert swimmer.

Here’s the abbreviated version of a sciencedaily March 31 report:

Champaign, IL — A 10-year study on disinfection byproducts (DBPs) reports on the connection between certain DBPs in drinking water that are “emerging” in scientific studies and their carcinogenic potential, according to a March 31 ScienceDaily report based on a University of Illinois press release.


The study, which began with a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has found that iodine-containing DBPs are much more toxic and genotoxic than other DBPs now regulated by EPA, according to University of Illinois geneticist Michael Plewa, the study’s author.


Plewa said another “somewhat surprising” discovery concerns nitrogen-containing DBPs. “Disinfectant byproducts that have a nitrogen atom incorporated into the structure are far more toxic and genotoxic, and some even carcinogenic, than those DBPs that don’t have nitrogen. And there are no nitrogen-containing DBPs that are currently regulated,” Plewa said…


In addition to drinking-water DBPs, Plewa said that swimming pools and hot tubs are DBP reactors. “You’ve got all of this organic material called ‘people’ — and people sweat and use sunscreen and wear cosmetics that come off in the water. People may urinate in a public pool. Hair falls into the water and then this water is chlorinated. But the water is recycled again and again so the levels of DBPs can be tenfold higher than what you have in drinking water,” Plewa said, noting that studies show higher levels of bladder cancer and asthma in people who do a lot of swimming.



This brings me back to shameless promotion of my chlorine-free sanitization system for pools.  Dude, it really works and you can laugh in the face of that “chlorine-smell.”


Alternatives can be a good thing.

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