15 November 2018
Keeping your pool free of odour and eye irritants
Children love to swim but sometimes they experience eye irritation. If you find that your pool water causes eye irritation regularly and is accompanied by an unusual odour, there may be an issue with the pool water sanitisation.
In situations like this, prompt action is the answer, otherwise, the pool may require a more comprehensive fix later. In this post, we take a look at why a pool may develop an odour and cause eye irritation in swimmers.
Even kids claim they know why their eyes are sore after swimming underwater - it's the chlorine. Added to the pool water to keep it clean and fresh, chlorine is a powerful chemical that works in a very simple way. When it comes into contact with organic compounds or bacteria, it binds with and neutralises them. Consequently, the pool water stays clear and clean for far longer than it would without the addition of this useful chemical.
Like any chemical reaction, it produces by-products. The American Chemistry Council (@AmChemistry) explains: “When chlorine disinfectants are added to water, two chemicals are unleashed that destroy waterborne germs: hypochlorous acid, HOCI, and hypchlorite ion, OCI-. A measure of the chlorine in these two chemicals is known as 'free available chlorine' or FAC. Pool operators manage the FAC level of pool water for the safety of swimmers. Their challenge comes from the fact that FAC is reduced when it reacts with perspiration and oils from swimmers to form chloramines. One way that chloramines are formed in pool water is by the reaction of hypochlorous acid with ammonia.
Despite many swimmers connecting the smell of a pool to its chlorine, it's actually a lack of chlorine and an overabundance of chloramine (a by-product) that causes a pool to develop an odour and irritate eyes. As the level of chlorine in a pool decreases, the amount of chloramine is increasing - if left too long without correction, that’s when you may start to notice an unwelcome odour.
Fortunately, there is a relatively easy solution to chloramines: adding more chlorine! It's relatively simple to shock the pool water. This is the process of adding a healthy dose of free chlorine all at once to the pool in order to rid the water of excess chloramine, as well as the organic compounds that make chloramine. It is also important to backwash the filters to drain off some of the existing pool water and replace it with fresh water.
If you notice that your pool has an unusual smell and/or bathers are experiencing eye or skin irritation after swimming, it's imperative to act quickly. Being exposed to chloramines long term is not good for your health, potentially leading to issues like respiratory problems. It's another reason to test your pool water regularly, something your pool engineer will do as part of a regular service.
At London Swimming Pool Company we specialise in swimming pool maintenance, servicing and refurbishment, so if you have a pool that’s in need of regular maintenance or a facelift, contact us for an initial discussion – there’s no substitute for expert advice. If you have an older swimming pool that needs upgrading, we suggest planning your refurbishment for the autumn, so all the work is done and dusted before the next swimming season.