Is It Safe To Swim In A Pool With Low Or No Chlorine?

A pool without chlorine is a breeding place for all sorts of bacteria and microorganisms. A chlorine free pool puts you in danger of falling sick.

In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a common reason for hospitalization is water-related illness.

Since the pool is not always flowing or moving, unlike the ocean, it remains in a place even when it is being filtered or recycled, and because of this, it is easy for bacteria to grow in this environment.

As well known, the human body is porous and so swimming in a pool lacking chlorine for long may make you sick or at least contribute to rashes and other types of skin irritations as the microscopic impurities can pass through the pores. Having an open sore or cut also puts you at risk.

However, it is possible to swim in a pool without chlorine and be just fine but the health and safety risk is much greater.

What is a swimming pool? A pool is a small area of still water, usually one formed naturally. A swimming pool refers to a tank made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic, designed to hold water and is meant for swimming or other leisure activities.

The main kinds of pools are

  • In-ground pools
  • Above-ground pool: These are built above the ground as a free-standing construction or as part of a bigger structure.

Pool water must be treated and disinfected for it to be clear and safe for swimming. One of the ways to treat this pool water is through the use of chemicals such as chlorine.

What is chlorine?

Chlorine is a toxic greenish-yellow gaseous chemical that is two and a half times heavier than air. It has the symbol Cl, with atomic number 17 on the periodic table. It is known for its strong, distinctive smell and is toxic when in direct contact with human skin. It dries out the skin, causes irritation and redness, and even blisters, though not when used in small quantities.

Chlorine has a variety of uses, some of which are sanitizers in sewage and industrial waste, it serves as a bleaching agent, is used as a disinfectant, and also for pesticides.

How is chlorine used to treat pool water?

It is important to note that chlorine is a naturally occurring chemical gotten from ordinary salt by passing an electric current through brine solution. This process is called electrolysis.

When chlorine solution is added to water, it breaks down into several chemicals, including hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and hypochlorite ion (OCl-). These chemicals kill microorganisms and bacteria by oxidizing the lipids in the cell walls and destroying enzymes and structures in the cell thereby rendering them harmless.

Benefits of chlorinating pool water

  • Chlorine sanitizes the water and kills unseen bacteria.
  • It is an oxidizing agent, so it helps the overall water quality and clarity.
  • It kills existing algae and prevents the growth of algae in the pool.
  • It stabilizes your pool, i.e., pool water is kept safe for an extended period of time.

Is it ok to swim in a pool without chemicals?

When people talk of chemical free pools, it is assumed that they refer to chemicals that are not naturally occurring since it is impossible to have a completely chemical-free pool since everything in nature is made of chemicals.

Even with this definition, it is unrealistic and even undesirable to have a chemical free pool, as pools without chemicals are the perfect breeding place for bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Chemicals can be totally safe or even dangerously toxic. Every pool requires a certain concentration of chemicals to be safe to swim in, and when it comes to swimming in pools, safety should take precedence over chemical-free.

Is it ok to swim in a pool if the levels are low?

You could actually swim in a pool with a low level of chemicals, but the risk level is high. In a low-level chemical pool, bacteria survive and penetrate the pores of human skin, thereby causing harm to human health. These bacteria may not be seen in the pool, but they exist. In fact, major impurities are introduced into the pool by swimmers.

How long can water sit in the pool without chlorine?

Water can sit forever or until it evaporates. However, stagnant water stinks and breeds several bacteria, which makes it dangerous for human health, even for swimming. The water is safe for swimming if it is still fresh, which it is within 2-3 days depending on human activity.

How do you know if your pool is safe to swim in?

The most common way to know if your pool is safe for swimming is by observation. However, some dangers cannot be seen with the bare eyes.

If the pool is murky (i.e. hard to see through) in appearance, it is clear indication how unsafe it is.

Another clear indication is presence of Algae growing in the water. Blue-green algae produce toxic cyanobacteria which can grow in poorly sanitized pools.

If there is a suspicious smell also, please do not dive in the pool

Why is my pool showing no free chlorine?

If you add chlorine to your pool and still get no chlorine reading, it is advised you check your water test kits.

Well, if your test kits are perfectly fine, no chlorine reading in your pool may actually be as a result of imbalanced chemical levels. Excluding chlorine, you need to balance the other added chemicals

It could also be as a result of too much organic material in your pool. This could be due to an excessive buildup of algae and phosphates. As chlorine does its job, it is used up immediately. To avoid this, you could get rid of organic materials from your pool water by brushing pool walls, washing pool filters and removing other visible waste.

How do I get my chlorine level up?

Raising chlorine levels in pools is much easier than trying to lower it. Just adding chlorine in form of chlorine tablets, granular chlorine or liquid chocking will increase chlorine level in your pool. It is advised to add chlorine little by little and test to avoid over chlorination.

How long does it take to raise chlorine level in a pool?

After adding chlorine in form of tablets, powder or even liquid shocking, test to see if chemical level is balanced.

After this, wait for at least 8- 12 hours or even 24 hours or till the chlorine levels come back to the normal 5ppm or below.

How often should I put chlorine tablets in my pool?

Add one tablet to every 5000 gallons of water and feel free to round up. If your pool contains 8000 gallons, use two tablets; if it contains 21,000 gallons, use five tablets.

Always test your chlorine level to know what should be added.

What happens if you don’t shock pool?

Pool shocking refers to the addition of granular oxidizer, a powdered form of chlorine, to pool water for treatment. This is done normally after heavy pool use to remove combined chlorine molecules from the water or excess bather waste and bacteria.

Every pool is different, and pools don’t need to be shocked except to help remove contaminants or clear cloudy pool water.

Is it safe to swim in light green pool water?

It is not advisable to swim in a green pool until the chemical levels are tested.

According to Joseph Laurino, “If the water is green, some chemistry parameter is not correct”.

Though because a pool is green does not always mean it is unsafe. The chlorine levels might still be enough to keep the pool sanitized but the chemicals however need to be inspected and tested. Chemical tests prove the safety of a pool even if it looks unappealing. So the reason for its greenish color should first be ascertained to be safe.

What diseases can you get from a swimming pool?

When pools are poorly maintained, it results to various diseases from bacteria which are harmful to human health. Some of the diseases are listed below

  • EColi – This is one of the most common bacteria known to be responsible for water related illnesses. It lives in the digestive systems of humans and animals and is spread through fecal matter. Swallowing water contaminated with E-coli can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
  • Legionella – This bacteria survives in warm water and causes Legionaries disease. This illness could be spread through inhalation and can cause fever, abdominal pain, headaches and unhealthy weight loss
  • Cryptosporidium parvum – This is a diarrheal parasite that lives in human and animal intestines and can survive for many days in water, even after treatment of water with chlorine. When Cryptosporidium parvum is swallowed, it can cause diarrhea, cramps, fever, and even death in worst case scenarios.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa – This can be contaminated from warm or damp environments surrounding the pool. It can cause rash, conjunctivitis, sore throat, nausea and other harmful symptoms

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