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Swimming Pool Chemicals, Chlorine:

container of chlorine tablets for swimming pools

What is it?

Did you know that a common chemical used around your house for cleaning and disinfecting is also used in swimming pools? Chlorine is used to kill bacteria and control algae in your pool water so that it is safe for swimming. Along with other chemicals it works to keep the walls and bottom of your pool clean.

The chlorine is actually contained in swimming pool chemicals such as calcium or sodium hypochlorite. These chemicals are known as "antimicrobial pesticides." The calcium and sodium hypochlorite used in pools come as tablets, granules and sometimes as a liquid.

What's in it?

Disinfectants containing chlorine for use in swimming pools are the chemicals calcium and sodium hypochlorite

What health and safety things do you need to think about with swimming pool chemicals?

Unlike water from your faucet, which is also disinfected, you should not drink water from the pool. Why? Lets think about it. Water from your faucet is treated so that a safe level of chlorine is always available to kill germs. It is in a closed system until it comes out of your faucet. But pool water is open to contamination from the air and all those people in it! Also, the concentrations of chlorine and other chemicals added to the pool have to be higher than those in drinking water. Why higher? Beccause not only is there contamination of the water from many sources but these chemicals also become less effective with time due to evaporation and exposure to the sun.

Although the chemicals used to keep your pool clean are also contained in other household products, there is a difference. The difference is the concentration of the chemical. A chemical's concentration is how strong it is. For example, some household cleaners contain two percent (2%) chlorine. Bleach has five percent (5%). Chemicals for use in swimming pools can contain from 12 to 95 percent (12% to 95%) chlorine. Why so strong? Because the chemicals are meant to be diluted or added to water, lots of water, before they are safe to use.

Because these chemicals are so strong only your parents should add them to the pool. Remind them to always "Read the Label First" to know how to properly use these products and for safety information.

What can happen if you come in contact with swimming pool chemicals before they are added to water? Like the disinfectant cleaners, these can be very caustic. Swimming pool chemicals can cause breathing problems and will burn your eyes and skin. If swallowed, they will burn your throat; and they can be fatal. How badly you could get hurt depends on your exposure to them. As a general rule, if you get any chemicals on your skin or in your eyes, wash it off with lots of water right away.

What do you do if you or someone you're with has an accident with household products?

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