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Chemical Safety

I wanted to begin this section with the precautionary steps when it comes to handling chemicals. Before working with any chemicals, please keep in mind the following:

-Keep any incompatible chemicals separate
-Inspect all containers for cracks or leaks
-Carry an MSDS sheet. An MSDS is a sheet containing all the data on a product
including physical data, handling and working procedures, safe storage, what to do
in case of a spill, levels of toxicity, how the chemical reacts with other chemicals, and
safe disposal.
-Make sure all chemicals are strapped down and unable to move or spill
-Keep chemicals in a cool, dry area away from children
-Store chemicals in an area with good ventilation
-Take care to dispose of all chemicals properly
-Read all instructions carefully
-Use proper safety equipment such as gloves, facemask, respirator, and clothing
-Use different scoops and buckets for different chemicals to avoid mixing them
-Do not stack containers. This can pose a hazard if one begins to leak
-Do not store or work with chemicals near an open flame
-Do not smoke near chemicals
-Do not mix chemicals.
-Do not add chemicals to the pool’s skimmer
-Chlorine fires need to be put out with water, not a chemical foam extinguisher


Adding chlorine sanitizer to a pool creates free available chlorine, which sanitizes the pool. Once the chlorine comes in contact with harmful bacteria, it combines with the bacteria to kill it; it turns into chloramine and won’t work to sanitize the pool. The free available chlorine level should be between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million. Too much chlorine can cause breathing difficulties. When adding chlorine to a pool, make sure to wear gloves and eye goggles. Never breathe in the chlorine gas. Avoid skin contact with chlorine and never mix chlorine. Liquid chlorine can be fed into the pool by a mechanical chlorinator or added directly into the pool. Liquid chlorine is best used in large pools because of its high pH level and should be used while the pool’s filter is running. Chlorine gas is chlorine in its elemental state. Chlorine gas is highly dangerous and very acidic, which is why it is not used very often. The gas should be used with the utmost care to ensure safety. Chlorine tablets use a more specialized form of chlorine because the chlorine is pressed with cyanuric acid. Cyanuric acid acts as a stabilizer that extends the life of the chlorine and makes the tablets dissolve slowly. Tablets should only be placed in a floating feeder or automatic chlorinator. Adding chlorine tablets to a skimmer can strip the copper, and adding tablets to the pool can damage the plaster or vinyl.
Chlorine tablets are also good at controlling the growth of algae. Granular chlorine comes in three types: hypo-chlorites, Di-chlor, and cal-hypo. Hypo-chlorites have less chlorine than other chlorine methods, so more of the product is needed. To work effectively, hypo-chlorites need to work in tandem with an acid. Hypo-chlorites are fast dissolving, non-flammable, and won’t cause hard
water. Di-chlor is fast dissolving and also contains cyanuric acid, so it lasts longer than the other types of granular chlorine. It is also the most expensive.

Calcium hypochlorite

Calcium hypochlorite, or cal-hypo, comes in tablets and granules. Cal-hypo is the least expensive, as well as the most dangerous. Cal-hypo can catch fire if it comes into contact with debris or other chemicals and must be used carefully. The calcium in cal-hypo can cause hard water. Cal-hypo has a high pH value and must be dissolved in a bucket of water before being added to a pool to avoid bleaching the pool liner. When excess urine, saliva, fecal matter, sunscreen, make up, or perspiration
combines with chlorinated water it can create chloramines, which can cause skin and eye irritation. The level of chloramines should not exceed 0.2 parts per million.


Bromine is a chemical sanitizer but, unlike chlorine, bromine is less irritating to the eyes and skin. Bromine levels for pools should be kept above 1.0 parts per million. When bromine comes into contact with bacteria, the bromine neutralizes the bacteria but remains active. Using a shock treatment will kill off the harmful bacteria and leave the working bromine behind. Thus, less bromine is needed in the long run. Bromine most often comes in bromine tablets and bromine shock systems.
Bromine tablets contain a bromine residual that kills algae and bacteria. Bromine is slow dissolving and is added to the pool with a chemical feeder or dispenser. Bromine shock systems reactivate the sanitizer in the bromine and eliminate the bromamines. Shock systems work by drastically raising the chlorine or oxygen levels for a short period of time.



Biguanide is an easier alternative to chlorine and bromine. Biguanide doesn’t affect the pool’s pH levels and doesn’t have that chlorine smell. Also, because of the nature of biguanide, all of the biguanide in the water will act as a sanitizer all the time, even after killing off bacteria. The biguanide itself does not work as an oxidizer, although most biguanide products will come combined with an oxidizer. One drawback of biguanide is that it has a tendency to gum up the pool’s filter. Most pool supply stores will sell products to clean the gum from the filter. Great care should be taken when using biguanide with other chemicals. Biguanide should not be used with chlorine or select monopersulfates. Check theproduct label for information on which chemicals should and should not be used in tandem with biguanide.Algaecide Algaecide is used to kill algae and prohibit algae growth. It is important to use algaecide as some forms of algae are resistant to chlorine. Once the algae has grown, it can be incredibly hard to get rid of.There are four types of algaecides: quats, poly-quats, colloidal silver, and copper salts. Quats are used mainly to prevent algae from growing. Quats are the most available and the least expensive. Poly-quats are mainly used to kill existing forms of algae. While poly-quats are effective, they are also more expensive. Colloidal silver sticks to pool walls, allowing the product to continue working over time, and can reduce the need for chlorine. Colloidal silver should be used carefully, as wrong doses can turn the pool walls black. Copper salts are similar to colloidal silver. Copper salts both kill and prevent algae, but should not be used in chlorinated pools.


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