Growing up near Lake Michigan, most of my summers revolved around the local public swimming pool, those large bodies of water seeped with chemicals. By the end of the summer, my hair was so shiny yellow and dry, my eyes a light pink, that I wondered if a chlorinated pool is doing that to my body, what damage is it injecting on the environment. Is there really an eco-friendly pool? And, what characteristics would I look for and avoid
The number on culprit is chlorine, it is a corrosive chemical, harmful to literally everything it touches; your skin, hair, eyes, and the environment. The by-product of chlorine, known as chloramines, a carcinogen that can be dangerous in our water and soil and is linked to climate change, depletions in the ozone layer and several human health risks such as nervous system damage and cancer.
Besides the use of the chlorine in your pool, the actual process of making the chemical creates highly toxic by-products such as dioxins, which can accumulate and deposit in water, soils and plant surfaces. Wow, so how can I get to an eco-friendly pool? I have a cannonball in my near future!
To learn more about the harmful effects of chlorine by-products check out Environment.gov. There’s even a website Swim Fresh focused on this topic.
So, what’s a Midwestern girl to do with no ocean in sight?
Luckily, there are some alternatives to a chlorinated pool as well as some great eco-friendly pool cleaning products that can, at least, lessen the carbon footprint of your summer cooling off.
Salt water pools: This is probably the least eco-friendly pool option of the two alternatives. However if you’re choosing between this and chlorine – salt it is.
It causes the water to evaporate much slower, and while it still has chlorine (the salt itself turns into chlorine) it produces it in much smaller concentrations to that of a chlorinated pool. This is really more about the quantity of chlorine rather than the elimination of it because of salt pools, with the use of a generator (electricity, much?) are chlorinated.
Not to mention salt is corrosive and causes some cleaning dilemmas with calcium deposits. ECOsmarte pools: create a 100% chlorine-free pool by using natural oxygen technology.
Unlike a salt pool, it converts calcium to bicarbonate, which would eliminate scaling on the pool walls (no scaling = no cleaning products).
Also, since there are no harmful oxidizing chemicals, it will not damage any vinyl liners or pool covers increasing their life expectancy and saving you lots of money to replace them. To learn more about the benefits of an ECOsmarte pool check out their website.
Also consider these 8 ways to conserve water and electricity in your pool that I found from the Practical Environmentalist.