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Ozone and Saline Water Treatment for Swimming Pools Make a Splash in Pools Across the U.S.

Summer time brings lots of challenges to those with allergies. Sure there is the pollen and usual suspects, but our son is allergic to the chemicals, and this can pose extra precautions for parents.

One summer, we were visiting a water theme park in Louisville, Kentucky. It was very hot day, and the kids wanted to spend most of their day in the water area. There were splash pools, slides, and even a wave pool. We got into the water and started dodging the high waves. Not too long into the 10 minute wave experience, my child got full body hives. We had never had a reaction from water before, but I picked him up and ran right out of there. Fortunately, security saw us running and escorted us to the park’s clean water rinse shower just a few feet from the wave pool. We gave him some Benadryl and called it a day.

Over Spring break, we took a family trip to the Gulf Shores of Alabama. The beaches were pristine and the water clean and clear. Our son played on the beach with his cousins, who are really fish pretending to be humans, and he got hives again. This time, the sea salt, sun, and sunscreen really bothered him, and he spent most of the trip at the indoor pool. The pool at the resort was a saline based cleaning system. Not only was the pool easier on my son’s skin, the air quality in the indoor pool was far easier to breathe.

With so many children becoming sensitive to chemicals, some pools are switching to safer alternatives. One alternative is an Ozone Generator System. “Ozone gas is basically an active form of oxygen that reacts with bacteria, viruses, algae, and other impurities in the water. At its low concentration levels in the water it has no effect on your skin and eyes. Many municipal water purification plants use ozone to treat drinking water. When the ozone gas dissolved in water comes in contact with impurities it oxidizes them as chlorine chemicals do. It also causes particles, body oils, and suntan oils, etc. to clump so the filter can remove them more effectively. Most ozone purifiers for pools and spas use only about 0.5 amperes when they are running. This is about the same amount of electricity a 60 watt light bulb uses. Since the ozone generator unit only runs when the filter pump is operating the total amount of electricity used is not great. The ozone kit is installed in the existing pool or spa filtration plumbing. There are several basic designs of ozone generators but they all inject the ozone gas into the pool water through a small tube. The concentration of ozone gas is strongest at the point of entry for effective purification. An ozone system is not actually "no-chemicals" because you will still need to keep a very low residual level of chlorine in the pool water. This is generally only about 20 percent as much chlorine as when no ozone is used. The two basic types of ozone generators are ultraviolet (UV) and corona discharge (CD). UV systems use a fluorescent light to create ozone as the sun does above the earth. CD units use an electrical arc inside a generator to create ozone as lightning does (the fresh smell after a storm). Ozone is the most powerful oxidizer that can be used in a pool or spa, but in most cases you will need to supplement with chlorine.” (1)

Another alternative to keeping pools clean is the saline based method. “When salt is dissolved into water and the water is then subjected to a simple process of electrolysis, a very effective water sanitizer is produced. In fresh-water applications, such as swimming pools, spa pools, therapy pools (and many more), salt is added to the water to produce a very mild saline solution, approximately 1/3rd the salinity of human tears (or approx 1/12th as salty as ocean water). The salt used is common, every-day salt, or sodium chloride – the same pure salt found in sea water and used at the dining table.

When the water (and dissolved salt) is passed through the ‘cell’ portion of the Saline System equipment, chlorine gas is automatically produced (from the dissolved salt). This chlorine gas dissolves instantaneously into the water (so is never a hazard), and produces high levels of sanitizer/oxidizer which firstly prevent the formation of ‘chloramines’ and other ‘chlorine compounds’ and secondly provides a safe and measurable residual of sanitizer in the main water body. The elimination of ‘chloramines’ and other ‘chlorine compounds’ means the elimination of all of the obnoxious side-effects commonly associated with the manual use of ‘pool chlorine’ and leaves the water looking, feeling like the most pure, fresh and chemical-free water possible.

The dissolved salt is not consumed in the Saline System process so after the initial start-up salt is added, only top-up salt is required periodically (an average home pool will require as little as $10-$20 worth of salt per year). The sanitizer produced by the Saline System can be measured using the same common Test Kits used for testing chlorine levels in pools, and the chlorine residual (or FAC, Free and Available Chlorine level) can be maintained at required levels by simple adjustment of the Saline System Output, or production rate (thereby satisfying health authority by-laws)” (2)

Was it the chlorine in the theme park? Was is the sea salt or the sunscreen? We may never know. What we do know is that with those sensitive to may different variables, it is always a good idea to pack a good allergy medication, just in case.

Hope you have a safe summer!

Janet Millan

For more information on chlorine alternatives, visit;
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