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Chemical Review

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The following are posts we have found on other web sites talking about the different types of Chemicals used to treat your pool or spa: I am amazed when I see people drinking expensive bottled water, rather than tap water, yet they are sitting beside a chlorine and bromine treated swimming pool. A swim in that pool is much, much worse than drinking chlorinated water, as it has 10 times the number of toxins and carcinogens at thousands of times the levels found in regular tap water. You are the proud owner of a swimming pool and/or a hot tub. Your big concern now, other than making sure no one drowns, is making sure no one gets sick or infected by using it. You do that by putting something into the water to kill organisms that might be harmful to humans. The main chemical options are Chorine, Bromine and Baquacil. You need to be aware that there are serious health concerns with these products.

Chlorine

Chlorine has been around the longest, and is still the most common method of purifying the water. However, it is a poison. It kills things. That’s what it is supposed to do. The problem is that it can be harmful to humans, (although not as harmful as the things it kills, supposedly). The trick is to put enough in to kill the bad stuff, but not so much as to harm you and your loved ones. Why can chlorine be harmful? For one thing, the body absorbs it. You can absorb as much chlorine in one hour of sitting in chlorinated water as you would drinking unfiltered, chlorinated tap water for a week! Furthermore, by-products are formed in the water when it comes in contact with organic matter, (ammonia compounds and nitrogen compounds). The main source of those is from people’s bodies – the sweat, dead skin, urine, etc. These compounds reduce the effectiveness of the chlorine, so you are constantly adding more. They also cause the bad smell and burning eyes associated with pools. Some of these by-products have been linked to severe health issues such as spontaneous abortions and lung infections.

Bromine

Bromine is also a halogen, a poison and, for a number of reasons, might be a worse choice than chlorine. Its high evaporation point makes it more stable, so it doesn’t smell as bad or is as irritating to the eyes. On the other hand, that stability can make it more difficult to mix with the water and wash off your skin. It also may not be as effective against some bacteria as chlorine.

Baquacil

Baquacil is a totally engineered chemical, poly-hexa-methylene-biguanide. It is more expensive than chlorine, and much more difficult to use. It does not create noticeable irritating byproducts like chlorine, but there are reports of invisible vapors arising from spas treated with Biguanide that cause an unpleasant tickling in the throat, or more severe coughing, or may even build up to the degree that a person in the spa is unable to breathe. There are other negatives to consider. It seems that after what could be a very short time, the water quality starts to decline. In addition, there have been reports of strange infestations occurring in pools on the Baquacil program. If this happens, you will probably have to drain the pool and start over again. Unfortunately, the Biguanide leaves behind a slimy, sticky residue that covers the entire surface of your pool or spa and permeates all your plumbing, so simply draining the water does not eliminate this problem. It takes an acid based cleaner to dissolve this slime, and may necessitate lots of scrubbing and/or multiple cleanings and draining. Fun!

Ozone

Ozone can be added to any of the above systems to make them more effective, cheaper to operate, and, in the case of chlorine and bromine, safer to use. Adding ozone allows you to reduce the use of the other chemicals. Ozone is created in nature by lightening as it passes through the air, and by the action of ultraviolet rays on the oxygen in the air. That nice, clean scent you notice after a rainstorm is caused by ozone. Ozone is a natural purifier and is the most powerful oxidizer that is safe to use. Its big problem is that it is highly unstable, so it does not last long enough in swimming pool water to keep it clean. A hot tub has a relatively small amount of water in a confined area, so it is possible to use ozone exclusively in a spa without health problems. For swimming pools, however, you will need to use other chemicals as well.

Making the Choice

Before you invest in a system to keep your swimming pool or hot tub safe you should know all the options. Talk with others using systems similar to those you are considering. Do a little research and then you can better decide which system is the best for you.

Chlorine Dangers

  • Chlorine combines with natural organic matter and decaying vegetation to form potent cancer causing trihalomethanes (THM’s)
  • Collectively includes such carcinogens as chloroforms, bromoforms, carbon tetrachloride, bischlorothane and other cancer causing agents
  • The level of chlorine in swimming pools is over 1,000% the level deemed minimally safe by the EPA in water
  • Causes atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack
  • Causes skin to prematurely age
  • Damages the human eye
  • Causes bladder, breast, testicular, bladder, colon, or rectal and bowel cancer as well as malignant melanoma
  • Damages lung tissue
  • Causes acne, psoriasis, seborrhea and eczema
  • Converts to dioxins - the most dangers of cancer causing chemicals and which build up permanently within a person's body causes infertility and birth defects
  • Damages the nervous system permanently

"Chlorine is so dangerous" according to PhD biologist/chemist Dr. Herbert Schwartz," that it should be banned. Putting chlorine in water is like starting a time bomb. Cancer, heart trouble, premature senility, both mental and physical are conditions attributable to chlorine treated water supplies. It is making us grow old before our time by producing symptoms of ageing such as hardening of the arteries." Dr. Stephen Askin wrote: "The real issue is not just how toxic chlorine itself is but how the unintended by-products of chlorine (organo-chlorides and dioxins) remain in the environment. They are persistent in the environment; they do not break down readily and therefore bio-accumulate. This can create a very serious health problem; the dioxins and other toxic chemicals accumulate in the fatty tissues. These contaminants are also hormone disrupters because they mimic estrogen. The EPA has observed and documented hormonal imbalance, suppressed immune systems, reproductive infertility and alterations in fetal development of animals. In viewing the big picture, these factors are perhaps the most frightening results from the widespread use of chlorine." In Super Nutrition for Healthy Hearts Dr Richard Passwater shows how "the origin of heart disease is akin to the origin of cancer" Chlorination could very well be a key factor linking these two major diseases. Chlorine creates THM's and haloforms. These potent chemical pollutants can trigger the production of excess free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals cause cell damage. Excess free radicals can cause normal smooth muscle cells in the arterial wall to go haywire, to mutate. The fibrous plaque consequently formed is essentially a benign tumor. Unfortunately, this tumor is linked with the origin of heart disease."

Bromine Dangers

  • Is Bromine a safe alternative?
  • If spilled on skin it produces painful sores
  • Has strong unpleasant odor
  • Is Toxic
  • Converts to dichlorobromomethane, bromoform and bromate
  • The Metropolitan Emergency Response Network defines dichlorobromomethane as particularly dangerous and harmful (see below) Vapor will attack the eyes and lungs
  • Causes cancer
  • Damages skin
  • Damages the liver
  • Causes depression and brain damage
  • Damages the nervous system and muscles
  • Bromine vapors are known to reduce male sperm count, causes malformed sperm resulting in birth defects and causes male infertility
  • Maximum safety precautions should be used when handling it

The Metropolitan Emergency Response Network advises: "Dichlorobromomethane should be handled as a CARCINOGEN--WITH EXTREME CAUTION. * Exposure can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Higher levels can irritate the lungs and may cause you to become dizzy, light-headed and to pass out. Could cause death. * Repeated exposures affects the liver. * Contact can irritate the skin." EVEN WORSE, some pool and spa suppliers urge using both chlorine and bromine together - which doubles their sales. Combining chlorine and bromine is the second most powerful cancer causing liquid mixture - surpassed only by drinking highly radioactive liquids. When combined, chlorine and bromine make 97 carcinogens, 82 mutagens, 28 acute and chronic toxic contaminants and 23 tumor promoters. Many of these complex chemicals resulting from the conversion of chlorine and bromine to other chemicals permanently accumulate in a person's body fat. Each time exposed, the level of carcinogens, mutagens, toxins and tumor promoters increases. With each increase, the risk of cancer increases to a point of it no longer is a question of if the person will develop cancer. It is only a question of how soon. Each exposure from that point means sooner than before. To dive into a swimming pool and claim "see, I'm ok" is no different that a person holding up radioactive material making the same claim. Both cause permanent carcinogens and health damaging elements permanently with the person's body - primarily in body fat. The more the exposure, the higher the level becomes. Who makes such a claim? Essentially every chemist, doctors in the field of environmental toxins, the EPA, medical researchers, and essentially all health professionals and experts in the fields of cancer and toxins, except those employed by the chemical manufacturers of chlorine and bromine. Chlorine also is the number one cause of household poisoning and is particularly dangerous to children. The sellers of chlorine as a safe household pool chemical and declaring that hydrogen peroxide is a danger if carried in a car that is in a massive auto accident, are side-stepping a fact. Beyond the extreme health dangers and damaged caused by chlorine used in water, it also is the single most dangerous of all chemicals to have at home. For instance, in 1997, 217,989 calls to the Poison Control Center. Of those calls, 62,023 were about chlorine. So, that means that 28.4 percent of all calls were related to poisonings by chlorine products. What's even more important, most of those calls were about children under 6 years old. The difference in the killing factor of chlorine and bromine compared to hydrogen peroxide is clear. Chlorine and bromine are two of the most deadly poisons in existence, both in immediately killing power and long term killing power on the dna and cellular systems. These toxins kill everything, including people. Hydrogen peroxide kills micro-oganisms by over oxidizing them with too much oxygen. Oxygen is not toxic in any manner. Hydrogen peroxide is water and oxygen, the two most essential and beneficial elements to human life. The contrast is between the two of the most deadly chemicals and one of the most beneficial.

PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN

The health damage of chlorine and bromine are cumulative. The younger the person, the more likely they will develop serious, permanent or fatal disease, birth defects of their own children and the other extremely harmful health effects. Compounding this is that young children tend to swallow more water in a swimming pool. While you may be so old that filling your body with permanent toxins and dioxins increasingly is a risk you will continue to take, it is unthinkable to have children swimming in such water with the long terms devastating health damage well known. One recent study revealed that a non-smoker with a chlorinated pool is over twice as likely to develop cancer as a heavy smoker without a pool. The high number of pools and spas in the United States may well be the reason that cancer rates in deaths in the United States generally are 200% to 600% higher than other countries, with similar differences in many other degenerative diseases. Many Americans are putting toxic waste pits of the most powerful toxins and carcinogens in the world in their backyards and then swimming in it. VAPOR DANGERS: The dangers of chlorine and bromine are not only within the water, but the vapor from the water. The air from such a pool or spa subjects those around it and the household near it to continuous breathing of such a damaging chemical mixture. Carbon, paper filter and ionic air filters will not remove these chemicals from the air you breathe. The harmful air vapors surrounding a chlorine and bromine treated pool or spa make it a 24-7 health damage.

KEEP YOUR POOL OR SPA - GET RID OF THE CHEMICALS:

For the majority of people, the health damage is very gradual. However, some people have strong allergic reactions to some of the chemicals in pool and spa chemicals - or the chemicals made by those chemicals. Although no conscious of why, some people will come to so deeply dislike their spa they will leave them permanently drained or even throw them away. Others will fill in their pool or sell their house to buy one without a pool. Chlorine and bromine are sold to home pool, spa and hot tub owners on the P.T. Barnum principle: 'There is a sucker born every minute". They even convince customers that somehow doing so enters the person into an exact science of water treatement - with endlessly testing the water's PH factors, adding chemicals, offset chemicals, balancing chemicals, anti-foaming chemicals... It is a sucker's play to do so. More than eliminating organic growth in your pool, you want to avoid poisonous and toxic chemicals in the water. That seems obvious. I have no concerns swinning in a river or lake in terms of organic life in it. My only concern would be if it has dangerous chemicals. Given the choice between swimming in a river or swimming in a chemical waste water dump? Putting poisons and toxic chemicals in your pool, spa or hot tub is not what a rational person knowingly does.

SAFE FOR YOUR POOL OR SPA FILTER AND PUMP?

Some pool and spa chemical suppliers and Internet retailers warn that enzymes will damage the pump and/or filtration system. Is this true? The answer is no, maybe, and no. The answer is "maybe" if natural rubber is used AND if you have the mindset of the chemical merchants. Their view of water treatment is that you pour powerful chemicals into your pool to remain permanently in the water. As those turn to other chemicals, you then should add more chemical. Finally, when the chemical soup is so out-of-wack and awful, you should pump it all out and start with a new chemical soup and repeat the process. Most bleaches, chlorine and pool chemicals also harm rubber - and they also build up chemical film and clogging build up. So IF you have natural rubber fittings and IF you pour in lots of pool chemicals, it could damage your seals, fittings and pump. So then the final "no", not if you use enzymes, rather than like other pool and spa chemicals - meaning always building up the level of chemicals in your water.

TERRIBLY FOULED POOLS AND SPAS:

Some pools and spas are neglected for months and even years, resulting in terrible levels of growth fouling. As the pool or spa dries out time to time, this also forms a thick crust, like a contaminated ship bottom. A high concentration of hydrogen peroxide will kill the growth and even will remove surface layers of it, but will not remove dense dead growth on the pool surfaces. This would allow renewed usage of the pool without further growth from the fouled surfaces, but there would still be the unsightly appearance. There are rare instances where this is desirable, however, in the instance of decorative ponds or "pond pools" in which the pool is stone lined or otherwise made to look like a natural pond in a natural setting. Having a natural appearing pond or pool, but also with clear and clean water, is a challenge not met by pool chemicals. There is no pool chemical that can honestly say it would help your plants and yard if you poured pool water on it. This is true, however, with an enzyme treated spa.

The Dangers, Uses, and Discovery of Bromine

Bromine has many uses. It is used in several products that are used in our daily lives. Bleach, a house hold product, is made from Bromine. There are many dangers to using the element, Bromine. Bromine causes severe damage to human tissue. It is also irritating to the eyes and throat. Bromine absorbs organic bromines through the skin, food, and breathing. It is VERY important to keep your whole body covered while using Bromine. If burned by Bromine, the best thing to do would be to water down the burn as fast as you can. It has come to my attention that baquacil or products using baquacil can damage your spa . The exact reasons are not yet known but the findings coming in are none the less conclusive Baquacil is not a good replacement for Chlorine or Bromine.

The Evidence

I the last several years complaints have been called in to manufactures regarding fractures of the clear lite lenses used in portable spa. Once this number became larger than expected tests were made and questions asked of the customers saps and the common factor was Baquacil. Apparently baquacil goes after the resin in some plastics resulting in fractures and rapid deterioration of the molded parts . I am suggesting at this time that you consider getting out of baquacil and go into more conventional water treatments.

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