Pool Chemicals and Your Health

As we enter Labor Day weekend, it’s probably the last time many of us will use our swimming pools for the year. It’s important that we keep safety in the front of our minds.

Of course, we mean the safety of swimmers – especially young children – but it goes deeper than that.

Did you know thousands of people are treated in an emergency room every year for injuries caused by pool chemicals?

As we head toward the colder part of the year and Washington residents begin to close up the pools in their backyards, here’s a lesson on pH levels and chlorine – and how they affect the safety of everyone who uses your pool.

photo (1)1.  Store chemicals safely.

This no-brainer tip could spare us most of the thousands of injuries every year caused by pool chemicals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a wealth of tips on how to properly store these chemicals.

2.  Understand chlorine.
Simply put, chlorine is what keeps dangerous bacteria from thriving in your pool. Chlorine kills E. coli, hepatitis, giardia and other unwanted germs. To be effective, chlorine levels should stay between 1 to 3 parts per million, according to the CDC.

Check chlorine levels regularly, and be sure you understand how the correspond with the next item…

3.  Check pH levels.

You should check pH levels weekly while your pool is open. The pH level directly influences the ability of chlorine to kill off the germs that can cause harm.

The safest pH range for a swimming pool is between 7.2 and 7.8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is roughly the same pH level as our bodies.

A pH level too high or too low will decrease the effectiveness of chlorine. This leaves the pool susceptible to building up bacteria. Also, a pH level substantially different from that of a swimmer will cause skin and eye irritation.

Check out the CDC’s fact sheet for more on chlorine, pH levels and the relationship between both.

Stay Safe

Young children are the most vulnerable around pools. The statistics are staggering, and you can find them in this infographic we’ve offered to Washington residents. You’ll also find some useful safety tips there, too.

Stay safe this Labor Day weekend.