If media reports are anything to go by, 2017 is shaping up to be a disappointing year for swimming pool safety when it comes to chemical leaks. There have been a significant number of cases where chemical leaks in public pools have caused health problems to patrons. Australian Innovative Systems (AIS) believes that by eliminating the need to store chlorine, disinfection by electrolysis may help improve health and safety outcomes, even in fresh water swimming facilities.
Pool safety is a big topic in Australia and the world. We have all been vigilant in ensuring our pools are a safe places for swimmers. Any pool that stores chlorine for the purpose of water disinfection is a ticking time-bomb and a great risk to pool safety and public health.
There have been many cases of chemical accidents, spills, and leakages reported in the media. Some of these incidents generate national or international attention, but most go unnoticed, reported only by local media. Here is a sample of media headlines about alleged chemical incidents at swimming pools so far this year:
- 40 children taken to hospitals after chemical leak at YMCA pool
- Children transported to hospital after chemical release at Summerville pool
- 23 sickened by chlorine leak: Chemical overload at Marinette Civic Center pool sends swimmers to BAMC
- Manhattan pool remains closed day after several were sent to the hospital
- Gulf Islands Waterpark wants to make sure chlorine incident ‘never happens again
- Chlorine leak at hotel pool sends 19 to hospital
- Cloud of chlorine gas at Tampa pool sends 5 children to hospital
- Seven Peaks in Provo evacuated due to chlorine leak; 12 go to hospital
- Six people were taken to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital following a chemical leak at a Boambee swimming pool
- The Fishers YMCA was evacuated and multiple people were transported to the hospital after a suspected chlorine leak
While AIS is not able to verify the accuracy of these media reports, they contain many references to human error and equipment failure. This is consistent with the 2017 Inhalational Chlorine Injuries at Public Aquatic Venues in California (2008–2015) report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report states that equipment failure and human error at public aquatic venues can lead to toxic chlorine gas releases and have negative health impacts on bathers and aquatic staff members.
The recommended course of action to lower chemical accidents is very sensible and include:
- Regular testing of chemical control failsafe features
- Proper training of aquatic facility staff members
- Following standardized policies and procedures, including evacuating bathers from the pool before a recirculation pump is restarted.
- Use of the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code as a resource and guide of standardized, evidence-based regulations
At AIS we believe that the industry is overlooking a very important additional opportunity to lower the risks of chemical incidents.
Specifically, to end the dependence on storing, handling and dosing liquid or granular chlorine by switching to disinfection by electrolysis, which is now possible even in fresh water swimming pools*.
Unfortunately, most pool operators over-look this opportunity because they associate chlorination by electrolysis with salt water pools. Disinfection by electrolysis is actually possible in water with TDS levels as low as 1,200 parts per million (ppm) is growing, but we have a way long way to go.
It is probable that most ‘chlorinated pools’ (as distinct from salt water pools) already have TDS levels in the 1,000 – 2,000 ppm range because dosing liquid chlorine raises TDS above the level of mineral content naturally present in town water. In fact, many pools have to dilute their water – by dumping some and replacing it with town water – to keep TDS levels within guidelines for their region or type of pool. Inline chlorination at a TDS level of 1,200 ppm requires specialised equipment. This is why Australian Innovative Systems launched a commercial-scale inline chlorinator for fresh water swimming pools* – EcoLine™ – in 2008.
EcoLine™ is already in use in a growing number of fresh water swimming pools and aquatic facilities, including FINA-standard competitive pools.
With EcoLine™, aquatic facilities do not need to store and handle large volumes of liquid or granular chlorine on-site, which lowers health and safety risks associated with hazardous chemicals.
Moreover, if aquatic facilities switch from chlorine dosing to disinfection by electrolysis, the industry will also lower the potential for hazards chemical incidents on public roads and highways, such as this story.
It’s about time that we started making these accidents a thing of the past.
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*Fresh water swimming pool is a pool containing water with a TDS level of 1,200 ppm (AIS definition), which is over 75% less saline than many standard salt water pools
EcoLine™ Commercial Case Study