Proper Competitive Pool Water Chemistry

Proper Competitive Pool Water Chemistry

Post by Dave Dumon » Sun, 24 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Does anyone have an explanation as to what causes a competitive swimming
pool to begin releasing chlorine gas causing swimmers to begin coughing
so severely as to make some of them leave the water?

Both my son and daughter are ***age competitve swimmers and recently
their high school swim team moved into a newly enclosed 50 meter
swimming pool.  Almost immediately after starting to swim in the pool,
many swimmers are experiencing severe breathing and coughing problems
resulting in some swimmers having to exit the pool.  Swimmers say they
can see a fine film of gas at the surface of the water.  Swimmers seemed
to be affected by this condition to varying degrees - some not affected
at all while others, like by son and daughter, are affected greatly
(i.e. my son says he's '...coughing up a lung!').  This 'chlorine gas'
condition seems to develop the more the water is agitated (i.e. kick
sets, etc.)

As a parent, I'm concerned about the wellfare of my children and I'm
worried that the pool water chemistry is wrong and that the people
responsible for maintaining the pool water chemistry don't know how to
fix the problem.

Any explanation as to what causes this 'chloring gas' problem as well as
suggested solutions would be appreciated.  Also, if anyone has a name
(i.e. phone number and/or e-mail address) of a competitive pool water
chemistry expert, I would appreciate that information also.

Thanks, in advance, for any input.

Dave Dumond

 
 
 

Proper Competitive Pool Water Chemistry

Post by T-ma » Mon, 25 Nov 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
>Does anyone have an explanation as to what causes a competitive swimming
>pool to begin releasing chlorine gas causing swimmers to begin coughing
>so severely as to make some of them leave the water?

Yes, I've had the same experience at my high school's indoor 25yd pool. It
only happened occasionally. The main cause was poor pool chemistry and bad
ventilation. If possible, prop an external door open to let the air
circulate. The Chlorine gas odor is actually free chlorine escaping the
pool, and is a sign that the pool needs to be shocked, or loaded with allot
of extra chlorine, so it can oxidize the free chlorine which is the source
of the problem. Talk to the pool maintinence personnel, or with the school
administration about the problem.

T-mack

--
Theral E. Mackey                                                T-mack
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Georgia, 30332
Visit Ga. Tech's Water Polo Club at: http://www.prism.gatech.edu/~tm92


 
 
 

Proper Competitive Pool Water Chemistry

Post by James G. Ack » Thu, 28 Nov 1996 04:00:00


: >Does anyone have an explanation as to what causes a competitive swimming
: >pool to begin releasing chlorine gas causing swimmers to begin coughing
: >so severely as to make some of them leave the water?
:
: Yes, I've had the same experience at my high school's indoor 25yd pool. It
: only happened occasionally. The main cause was poor pool chemistry and bad
: ventilation. If possible, prop an external door open to let the air
: circulate. The Chlorine gas odor is actually free chlorine escaping the
: pool, and is a sign that the pool needs to be shocked, or loaded with allot
: of extra chlorine, so it can oxidize the free chlorine which is the source
: of the problem. Talk to the pool maintinence personnel, or with the school
: administration about the problem.
:
: T-mack

        You're correct in the cause and mitigation, but not the
culprit.  If the pH is off and the chlorine level too low, which is
common in heavily-used pools, irritating compounds called chloramines
(chlorine + nitrogen) can form.  They cause the odor and the breathing
difficulties.
        Shock the pool.

===============================================
|  James G. Acker                             |

===============================================
All comments are the personal opinion of the writer
and do not constitute policy and/or opinion of government
or corporate entities.

 
 
 

Proper Competitive Pool Water Chemistry

Post by John Shepha » Fri, 29 Nov 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>Does anyone have an explanation as to what causes a competitive swimming
>pool to begin releasing chlorine gas causing swimmers to begin coughing
>so severely as to make some of them leave the water?

It annoys me when I hear that pool water that is causing distress to
bathers as it is usually down to the pool staff's negligence.  I would
strongly recommend anyone suffering discomfort as result of using a
swimming pool to complain vigorously.  In the UK, this means (a)
complaining to the manager of the facility (in writing, if possible)
and if this does not get results (b) contacting the Environmental
Health Department of the local authority concerned.  They have the
power to close a pool down until such time as the water is within
recommended parameters - quite a strong sanction bearing in mind the
loss of revenue and loss of face when having to explain to their
bosses.

The company I work for is a supplier of chemicals to sports centres
and swimming pools and we frequently get called in to give technical
assistance following complaints from the public, so I will do my best
to answer Dave's query.

Ideally, to diagnose the problem I would need to know the readings in
respect of the following at the time of the complaint:
Free chlorine, combined chlorine, pH, total alkalinity, calcium
hardness and water temperature.  If this info is available from pool
records and Dave can get it for me, I can probably come up with the
answer.  Meantime, here's some theories:

(1)  Free chlorine was far too high.  Any sign of bleached swimwear?

(2)  Free chlorine too low, so insufficient to break down combined
chlorine - the point I think T-mack was trying to make.  Any sore eyes
& throats afterwards?

(3)  pH too high (producing hypochlorite ion) or too low (cl2)

(4)  You mention a 'film of gas' on the surface of the water.  Could
this have been oil?  If so, chlorine will react with it to the
detriment of bather comfort

(5)  Was the type of sanitiser changed recently eg from bromine to
chlorine?  This could cause reactions for a time

(6)  Chlorine will react with detergents from poolside cleaners, soaps
and shampoos.  Were any of these present?

If you have a friendly pool shop in your area, you or your son or
daughter could always sneak a water sample out of the pool and get it
tested.  I would be very interested in the results.

Fortunately, any ill-effects are likely to be short lived, so no need
to lose any sleep.

John Shephard

Visit http://www.ftech.net/~jshep/pools.htm and see page on 'Sorting
out pool water problems - trouble shooting guide' for more information
(mainly for privately owned pools)