Public Health Overview
Pool and aquatics operators and public health officials are under constant pressure to ensure the safety of our public pool water. It’s no wonder when you consider the responsibility. Swimming is the second most popular sport in the United States among all age groups and there are approximately 360,000 large public pools in the U.S. that support this popular activity. The problem is, swimming venues are essentially communal baths where Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are easily and increasingly spread. Not to mention, the chemical we rely upon most – chlorine– is under increasing fire for unwanted chlorine by-product side effects and the potential for cancer risk from chlorine exposure.
There is an enormous task at hand to protect the public from communicable diseases and other health hazards associated with commercial pools and hot tubs, public aquatics facilities, water parks, and other venues. Thankfully, technologies currently exist to help provide a safe and healthy aquatic experience to all swimmers.
Understanding the problem will help you understand why DEL Ozone is well positioned to provide a solution to water quality issues that affect public health. Understanding the science and safety behind ozone and recognizing the role of the Model Aquatic Health Code will enable pool operators and public health officials to confidently rely upon and recommend ozone.
The Problem - Is Something Wrong with Chlorine?
When it comes to disinfecting pool and aquatics venue water, chlorine has been the standard water treatment method since 1961 when the United States Public Health Service published its model ordinance governing public pool water sanitation. Today, however, scientists are learning more about the limitations and potential hazards of chlorine. Problems of drinking water disinfection byproducts (DBPs) have been studied widely since Bellar's landmark paper in 1974. Since then, outbreaks of chlorine-resistant recreational water illnesses, along with the ever-present danger of chloramines have left many operators, public health officials, and others looking for ways to mitigate the risks and limitations of chlorine.
Chloramines and RWIs Drive the Need for a Better Solution
Chloramines and RWIs are driving recent attention to secondary commercial pool water disinfection. Chlorine is known to react with organic material in pool water to create chloramines which create foul odors, skin, eye, ear and lung irritation, and potential damage to indoor air handling systems (HVAC). Chloramines can also cause breathing disorder illnesses such as “Swimmers Asthma.” Plus, a recently publicized study related to chlorine and cancer risks raises further concern of the health issues of chlorine. Since the discovery of chloramines in the 1930s pool operators have struggled to balance the need for sanitized water with the need to enhance swimmer safety by eliminating chloramines.
Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)
RWIs caused by chlorine-resistant microorganisms and chlorinated byproducts have become more common over the past two decades. Recreational Water Illnesses have become widespread in the United States in commercial and public pool venues and is increasing annually, which poses a significant threat to public health and liability risks to those involved in operating aquatics venues. Repeated outbreaks of illness caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Giardia and Cryptosporidium parvum (Crypto), and others indicate that conventional chlorine treatments alone are not doing the job. The solution is secondary disinfection systems that are used in addition to chlorine with potent sanitation that reduces, chlorine consumption minimizes or eliminates potential chlorine hazards.
The Solution: Secondary Disinfection with Ozone
Public health concerns over chloramines, Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs), and now the possible link between chlorine exposure and cancer risk, make the need to use a secondary system paramount to safety. As we’re seeing, chlorine is no longer enough and may actually be part of the problem. A solution that can moderate the health risks of chlorine while enhancing the health, safety, and disinfection of the water in our public and commercial pools and hot tubs is something that must be considered. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), which serves as a model and guide for local and state agencies to update or implement standards governing the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of swimming pools and other treated recreational water venues. One key technical area being explored by a specially-appointed CDC technical committee, of which DEL Ozone is represented, addresses water disinfection methodologies. The committee has explored a variety of issues surrounding pool water disinfection and the resulting recommendation to be adopted by the MAHC is the use of secondary disinfection. Secondary disinfection involves the supplementation of chlorine with either Ozone or UV.
Do I Still Need Chlorine?
As with any oxidation solution in the marketplace (don't be fooled!), a minor amount of chlorine is required for the complete oxidation of contaminants. Our ozone systems destroy the lion's share of contaminants, which effectively reduces chlorine usage and costs by 60-90%, which is highly important due to the aforementioned finding and risks associated with chlorine alone.
DEL Ozone Promise
We believe in ensuring complete public safety, and educating the public about ways to reduce chemical usage through highly effective sanitation solutions. Our people need to be safe, and our planet needs to be cared for. Ozone, a naturally occuring chemical of Earth's systems, presents the most effective, natural way to ensure this happens.