Your Health

CHLORINE

Chlorine, n. a halogen element, a heavy, greenish-yellow, incombustible, water-soluble poisonous gas that is highly irritating to the respiratory organs, obtained chiefly by electrolysis of sodium chloride brine. Symbol: Cl.
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language

Chlorine is a very powerful chemical commonly used to sanitize water. Quite simply, Chlorine has the ability to oxidize and destroy most any element it comes in contact with. Anything not destroyed by the Chlorine is bleached clear, so as not to be seen. It’s the fast, easy way to clean water.

However, when Chlorine or Bromine are used to destroy sweat, urine and other organics they create organo-chlorides, trihalomethanes (thm’s), chloroform gas, and MX. These compounds are suspected carcinogens which cause the unpleasant odors and the skin and eye irritation you experience in a Chlorine treated pool.

Even the air around pools and spas can be deadly, as reported in 1998 in the American Journal of Public Health. The vapors rising off the pool contain endotoxins formed by the bacteria killed in the water by Chlorine or Bromine. Breathing these vapors cause Pneumonitis, which is permanent damage to the lungs and causes pneumonia-like symptoms.

Studies conducted for the EPA on exposure to Chlorinated water suggest the following health risks:

  • Immune system damage, especially in children
  • Damage to the liver, kidney and digestive tract
  • Miscarriage and sterility, birth defects, and nervous system damage
  • Numerous forms of Cancer, especially rectal and bladder

Simply put, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that Chlorine causes cancer, damage to the immune system, damage to the reproductive system, hormonal damage and is a slow, silent killer.

Because of these studies, the EPA announced in February of 1997 its intent to establish a Clean Water Plan to completely eliminate the use of Chlorine wherever possible.

This same agency, the EPA, has unfortunately been very slow to recognize alternative forms of water treatment. To date the only chemicals this agency recognizes as water sanitizers are Chlorine, Bromine, and Biguanide. No change from 30 years ago.

There is, of course, intense political pressure from The Chlorine Council and other chemical consortiums to not ban the use of Chlorine. It is, quite simply, very profitable.

The pool industry has grown up around Chlorine, and eliminating its use would mean eliminating most of the revenue they now enjoy, what with all the chemicals required when using Chlorine to prevent damage and maintain the proper water balance.

You, fortunately, do not have to bow to these political or economic pressures in deciding how best to protect the health and welfare of your family.

You have a choice, and we have all the best products to choose from!

BROMINE

Bromine; Properties. Bromine is a dark-red, dense liquid with a disagreeable odor. It irritates the eyes and mucous membranes and, in contact with the skin, produces lesions which heal with difficulty. Chemically less reactive than chlorine, it combines with both metals and nonmetals. It acts as a bleach and oxidizing agent.

Collier’s Encyclopedia

Bromine; n. Reddish-brown nonmetallic liquid element of the halogen group having a disagreeable odor and irritating fumes and causing chemical burns on contact. Symbol: Br [Greek bromos "stink" + -ine, so called because of its bad odor.]

Collier’s Dictionary

Bromine was introduced a few years ago as an alternative to Chlorine, but does not work any better, and is actually much worse. It’s in the same chemical family as Chlorine, a halogen, and is supposed to last longer in the hot water of a spa. But Bromine is almost ineffective unless activated with Chlorine or some other oxidizer. The Bromine tablets you use in a floater also contain Chlorine. When the Chlorine gets low you have to add more tablets. This causes the left over Bromine to build up to dangerously toxic levels. The next thing you’ll notice is an eye burning vapor when you open the cover, dry, itchy skin, difficulty breathing while in the spa, and ultimately the bromine rash on your thighs and midriff.

And Bromine has proven to be much more destructive to metals in the spa, which is why most new spas have little or no metal at all in their design. Except, of course, for the heater element. (Say bye-bye to your heater!)

And while it is widely promoted that Bromine doesn’t have the unpleasant odor of chlorine, this is only true when all water conditions are ideal. Just leave the cover on for too long a time or let the water get out of balance and wham! You’ll discover just exactly why this chemical is called Bromine, named after the Greek word bromos, meaning “stink”.

BIGUANIDE

About twenty years ago, a chemical company mixed together a contact lens cleaning solution and a surgical antiseptic and got it approved as a water sanitizer. The full name for this new chemical concoction was Poly HexaMethylene Biguanide (PHMB).

Little is known about the side effects of using PHMB’s in water.

The chemical makers make no claims that the product will biodegrade quickly.

PHMB causes major problems when mixed with chlorine, or when used in water high in calcium and magnesium. A sticky, brown, gel-like substance forms at the water line that is difficult to remove and severely plugs the filter.

This chemical requires almost daily maintenance of the water with shock treatments, water line controls, clarifiers, defoamers and more. Which just adds to the expense, the time and trouble of maintaining your water. Which means you will be spending more time and more money to keep your water clean.

As water treatment professionals, we have serious concerns about using PHMB’s. Our company has received countless reports of people experiencing a complete inability to breath shortly after entering their spa containing this chemical. We can only surmise the cause of this problem as a release of the hexane and methane from the breakdown of the product. The manufacturers of these products  will not provide us with any explanation. They, in fact, claim to have never heard of such an occurrence. Our position is that there is  definitely something going on, and will not recommend any product that may have such questionable side effects.

On a final note, with other chemical treatment systems you still have that constant chemical balancing act to perform. More work, more aggravation, more things to buy.

It’s no wonder so many people are searching for effective alternatives for the treatment of their water.

Now you have a Safe – Easy to Use – Effective Spa Chemical Alternative: The Natural Spa

WHAT ABOUT BACTERIA IN MY SPA?

The government has very strict quality standards for the tap water you fill your spa with. When these standards are met, they claim the water is “sanitary”, i.e. safe and free of disease-causing bacteria.

Even so, we instruct you to shock new tap water with 15 ppm chlorine to eliminate chloramines, tannins, algae or other residuals in the water supply. This chlorine shock will also destroy any pathogens, (disease causing bacteria and viruses), that may have somehow gotten past your local water authority and is in your “sanitary” water.

Once properly sanitized, your spa is free of any harmful bacteria. Now all you have to do is keep the water clean and clear and you have nothing to worry about.

When you use chlorine or bromine in your spa you will have dry, itchy skin and eventually experience red, bumpy inflammations. This is called folliculitis. Pool and spa professionals, and even some Doctors will tell you that this is caused by low sanitizer levels, and bacteria has grown in your water.

This is not normally the case.

As chlorine or bromine combine with minerals in your water, corrosive salts are formed. As the hot water of your spa opens up the pores of your skin these salts imbed themselves in your hair follicles. These corrosive chemicals in your skin cause a nasty rash, usually around the waist and inner thighs. They call it the “bromine rash”, and experienced Doctors see it quite often. A good, hot bath in clean water will actually help to ease the symptoms.

The Cure is to get rid of the Chemicals and then get back in your spa!

The staphylococcus bacteria, which causes common acne and is found virtually everywhere, can also cause a rash. Exposure to chlorine or bromine destroy your mucous membranes and break down your body’s natural defenses. This normally harmless bacteria will now attack your defenseless body and cause a rash.

Bottom line: Remove the chemical irritants from your spa and you may find, like many thousands of people, that these troublesome rashes disappear like magic.

The best way to keep bad bacteria out of your spa is to not introduce it in the first place.

Harmful bacteria, cysts, and virus come from the excrement of infected animals or infected people. Keep infected people and animals out of your water and you shouldn’t have to worry about this source of contamination.

But just in case you do get bacteria, cysts, or virus in your spa, here are the facts that you should know.

If the water is kept clear and free of organic contaminants, where bad bacteria can hide, then they can not long survive in the aggressive environment of a properly treated spa.

Your spa creates a lot of turbulence. This physical agitation is very destructive to micro organisms, as it literally breaks them apart. Most disease causing bacteria will not survive for long in this environment.

Water softening agents increase the exposure of unwanted organisms to the aggressive water, speeding up the process. The Natural Spa contains natural water softening agents. No toxic chemicals needed here.

Heat and filtration are the best way to get rid of dangerous cysts. Cryptosporidium, the most common of these organisms,  are virtually unaffected by chlorine or bromine. It takes 10 ppm of chlorine for more than two weeks to destroy Crypto. And bromine is less reactive than chlorine, so it  takes even more, for a longer time.

The Natural Spa  coats your filter for better filtration, trapping any unwanted contaminants on the surface of the filter and holding them there until they dissolve or are cleaned off.  The non-scaling properties and water softening action of the formula also improve heat transfer, meaning more heat distribution with less energy.

Virus, anaerobic bacteria, (and cysts, to a degree), are also destroyed by direct contact with oxygen. There are high levels of oxygen in the water in your spa. The trick is to get the oxygen to bond to the problem causing organism. The right enzymes will help the oxygen to bond with the unwanted pathogens, greatly increasing the rate of destruction. Enzymes are an important part of the Natural Spa .

Clean your filter on a regular schedule, and make sure it stays nice and white. Dark spots could mean trouble. Any discoloration of the filter material means it’s time to soak the filter in a solution of household bleach and water.

If you swim in some other pool, the ocean, lakes, streams or other water be certain you shower and wash completely with soap before using your spa. This, of course, also applies to your children, your family and anybody else that uses your spa.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa are very resistant to chlorine and bromine. People that swim in public (chlorinated) pools and do not shower before using their spa run the risk of introducing pseudomonas into their spa. These bacteria are not deadly, but can give you a nasty rash. Ozone with 1 ppm chlorine will get rid of them.

It takes very high levels of these bacteria to actually cause an infection. However, you do not want to have this unpleasant experience. And if any of these organisms get into your digestive tract, they will cause all kinds of grief. So it is always best to not drink the water in any pool or spa.

If you still have skin irritation after reducing your exposure to Chlorine or Bromine, test your supply water for bacteria. Don’t trust those colored strips; you should know what’s in your water.

Most pool and spa professionals have no means to test for bacteria. Their test kits and paper strips only check for salts, acid and chemicals.

You need to know that 1) your water is safe, and 2) is free of harmful organisms.

We recommend Millipore Bac-T testers to test your water for bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus.

You can also find a bacteria test kit at www.watersafetestkits.com so you can check your water yourself.

If you get a rash from using your spa, if a person or animal defecates in the water, or your tests show that harmful bacteria has somehow been introduced into your spa then do a chlorine flush: Remove any solid excrement, add 20 ppm chlorine and maintain that active chlorine level for 9 hours. Now the water is sterile again. At the same time soak your filter in 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.

Well water not maintained by a governmental authority must be tested before any treatment can be recommended.