High Tech Pool And Spa Stuff- Sanitization- Part 2

Bob Russell | February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Ultra Violet

Since the advent of the residential swimming pool there has been a quest for the perfect bather experience.

In the 50′s and 60′s pool owners would employ liquid chlorine (bleach) to minimize algae growth and prevent water-bourn ailments such as ear infections. During this time period ear infections became so associated with swimming pools the term “swimming pool ear” was coined to describe the painful affliction caused by bacteria breeding in unsanitary pools.

By the 60′s and 70′s we had made good progress in the area of pools and spa sanitization and our focus moved towards bather comfort. During this era, irritating odors and red eyes marked the recreational swimming experience. It was during this time “Bromine” was introduced as an alternative- this did in fact lessen, but not eliminate, the adverse effects of what we now understand to be a very treatable sanitization problem- caused by ammonia.

The source of ammonia, as it turns out, was the bathers. Ammonia readily forms a compound with chlorine- it is this compound (often referred to as “chloramines”) that is responsible for irritation of swimmer mucous membranes. If you’ve ever made the mistake of mixing ammonia and bleach together while cleaning your house, you’ll probably never forget it.

Unfortunately, many still blame chlorine for the irritation we now know to be caused by ammonia introduced by bathers. “Free Chlorine” is virtually odorless at levels that are more than adequate to maintain healthy water. As a comparison, the drinking water standard allows 4.0 ppm chlorine; the standard for pool sanitization is 3.0 ppm chlorine.

Ammonia- the real culprit for eye irritation, is easily oxidized and gassed off with appropriate treatments. Chlorine remains the preferred sanitizer for a host of reasons, not the least of which is: it is the most environmentally compatible sanitizer, it is also the least costly.

The use of ozone generators and non-chlorine shock has all but eradicated the red eyes and obnoxious odors caused when ammonia meets chlorine. End of problem… but wait… what about our quest for the perfect bather experience?

UV (Ultraviolet) light is making a resurgence in today’s marketplace- a marketplace that continues to demand the ultimate bather experience.

While a salt/chlorine generator and ozone combination makes for delightful water to bathe in- the demand for “perfect water” (which generally means LESS CHEMICALS) is still heard from the most discriminating pool and spa owners.

This is where UV sanitization is becoming increasingly popular.

A quick description UV and it’s applications:

UV can not be used in place of chlorine, but, it can reduce the “chlorine demand” by reducing the volume of pathogens- specifically the ability of water-bourn pathogens to reproduce.

Remember a point I made in a previous article- I compared the swimming pool or spa to a “Petrie Dish…” It’s actually a very good comparison. There must be a sanitizer present (i.e. an agent that kills bacteria, viruses and plant life) to maintain water that will not make bathers sick or grow algae.

UV is making a come-back because it reduces the amount of sanitizer required to maintain sanitary conditions for bathers. UV alters the DNA in live organisms so they cannot reproduce- thus reducing the demand for more chlorine. It must be noted here that UV does not kill bacteria or viruses, but it has been shown effective in reducing their ability to reproduce. Recall the Petrie Dish experiment- if you want to grow a particular bacteria, virus, fungus, or algae FAST, place it in a sterile environment with food. Live things reproduce exponentially unless they are checked by an agent (e.g. Chlorine)- or altered so they cannot reproduce, this is what UV light does.

UV is used extensively- it is popular in water features and ponds that host aquatic life- since there is no sanitizing agent like chlorine in a pond, UV helps control unwanted growth of water-bourn pathogens that can adversely impact plants and fish.

If you are one of those looking for the perfect bather experience, consider adding UV to your sanitizing system. It will reduce the chlorine demand.

If you share our passion for this subject, you are on a quest for the ultimate bather experience! Contact us at Glen Gate Company and one of our experts will be happy to help you find that perfect bather experience.


Below is an excerpt from a Wikipedia post:

Sterilization and disinfection

“…Ultraviolet lamps are used to sterilize workspaces and tools used in biology laboratories and medical facilities. Commercially available low-pressure mercury-vapor lamps emit about 86% of their light at 254 nanometers (nm), which is near one of the peaks of the germicidal effectiveness curve. UV light at these germicidal wavelengths damage a microorganism’s DNA so that it cannot reproduce, making it harmless, (even though the organism may not be killed). Since microorganisms can be shielded from ultraviolet light in small cracks and other shaded areas, these lamps are used only as a supplement to other sterilization techniques.

Disinfection using UV radiation is commonly used in wastewater treatment applications and is finding an increased usage in municipal drinking water treatment. Many bottlers of spring water use UV disinfection equipment to sterilize their water…”





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