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According to research from several sources, improperly balanced chlorinated pools can actually cause asthma. These findings may explain why swimmers are more prone to exercise induced asthma than athletes in other sports. “Results show that nitrogen trichloride (produced by high levels of available Chlorine) is a cause of asthma,” says Dr. K. Thickett of the Occupational Lung Diseases Unit at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. In Dr. Thickett’s study, each of the subjects either stopped taking inhaled corticosteroids altogether, or their asthma symptoms resolved significantly once they were placed in other environments away from the swimming pools. Dr. Thickett’s study was backed up by research from other European and Australian sources.
The problem isn’t the chlorine, but what chlorine turns into when combined with organics. Organics are contributed by bathers in the pool in the form of sweat, dander, urine and other organics. The chlorine reacts with the organics and produces nitrogen trichloride, aldehydes, halogenated hydrocarbons, chloroform, trihalomethanes and chloramines. In addition, many municipalities are now chloraminating the source water.
Dr. John Marshall, of the Pure Water Association, an American consumer group campaigning for safer drinking water, states: “It shows we should be paying more attention to the chemicals we put in our water and we should be looking for other alternatives to high levels of chlorination.” There are options that are safe, and non-toxic, such as treating water with ultra violet light.
When compared to chlorine feeder systems, Ultra Violet systems involve a higher initial capital cost. However, over the life of the pool Ultraviolet technologies reduce the on-going operating and maintenance costs. This can be significant. Chlorine is famous for destroying pool infrastructures, rusting out ventilation systems and destroying pool liners and coatings. UV poses no such problems. The UV/chlorine pool will be much cleaner, which means dirt, grease, oils, organics and other materials will wind up in the filter system much faster than with highly chlorinated systems.
Part of the problem in adopting UV is that many engineers, architects, pool builders and designers are not familiar with the technology. Engineering, architectural and other technical training has all been geared to chlorine. It takes significant re-education to now apply UV and many in the industry are reluctant. At Anderson Poolworks, we’ve invested in educating and training our team on UV technology, because we believe it’s the most cost effective and best system for keeping a healthy water environment, long term.
Once you add UV, you’ll realize that you no longer have to put up with red eyes, rashes, “bad” air and the health consequences of over chlorinated pools. This will increase the demand for UV technology. With regard to pool maintenance, UV systems result in less time maintaining your pool and it will be cleaner.
UV does not replace chlorine. It allows you to maintain a lower residual chlorine reading and allows the chlorine to be used for disinfesting. Each state Department of Public Health will have a copy of the state’s regulations and limitations for using UV in commercial pool applications. Each state may have different codes and getting them to lower their required minimum chlorine levels can be very challenging.
WHAT IS ULTRAVIOLET OR UV?
Ultraviolet light is part of the light spectrum, which is classified into three wave length ranges:
- UV-C, from 100 nanometers (nm) to 280 nm
- UV-B, from 280 nm to 315 nm
- UV-A, from 315 nm to 400 nm.
- UV-C light is germicidal, which means that it deactivates the DNA of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens and thus destroys their ability to multiply and cause disease. Certain wave lengths also break down chloramines that develop in indoor swimming pool water.
Specifically, UV-C light causes damage to the nucleic acid of microorganisms by forming covalent bonds between certain adjacent bases in the DNA. The formation of such bonds prevents the DNA from being unzipped for replication, and the organism is unable to reproduce. In fact, when the organism tries to replicate, it dies.
Ultraviolet technology is a non-chemical approach to assist disinfection. In this method of disinfection, nothing is added to the pool water except chlorine and pH control chemicals. This makes this process simple, inexpensive and requires very low maintenance. Ultraviolet purifiers utilize germicidal lamps that are designed and calculated to produce a certain dosage of ultraviolet (usually at least 16,000 microwatt seconds per square centimeter but many units actually have a much higher dosage.) The principle of design is based on a product of time and intensity: they must have a certain amount of both for a successful design.
HOW DO ULTRAVIOLET PURIFIERS WORK?
Short wave pressure mercury vapor tubes that produce ultraviolet wavelengths are installed in a water tight chamber. The UV system is installed after the pool filter and the return water to the pool is circulated 100% through the tube. Approximately 95% of the ultraviolet energy emitted is at the mercury resonance line of 254 nanometers. This wavelength is in the region of maximum germicidal effectiveness and is highly lethal to virus, bacteria and mold spores. Therefore, the water or air that passes through the chamber is exposed to the germicidal UV light and the genetic material of the micro-organism is deactivated, which prevents them from reproducing. Other wave lengths can successfully break down chloramines so make sure to check the difference between low pressure and medium pressure UV.
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