Public Health Overview

Public Health

Public health officials, as well as pool and aquatic operators, are under constant pressure to ensure the safety of our public water. It’s no wonder when you consider the responsibility. Swimming is the second most popular sport in the United States and there are approximately 500,000 large public pools in the U.S. that support this activity. The problem is, swimming venues are essentially communal baths where Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) can be easily spread. Not to mention, the chemical we rely upon most – chlorine– is under increasing fire for the unwanted chlorine by-product side effects.
 
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 for all swimmers, which DEL is very happy to play a role in. 
 
Understanding the problem will help you understand why DEL is well positioned to provide a solution to water quality issues that affect public health. Also, gaining knowledge behind the science and safety of 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 sanitizers. Today, however, scientists are learning more about the limitations and potential hazards of chlorine. Problems of drinking water disinfection by-products (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.” 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, which are caused by chlorine-resistant microorganisms and chlorinated by-products, 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 are increasing annually, which pose a significant threat to public health and the liability risks associated to those involved in operating aquatics venues. Repeated outbreaks of illness caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium parvum (Crypto), and others indicate that conventional chlorine treatments alone are not doing the job. The solution is secondary disinfection systems that are effectively used in addition to chlorine. These systems, such as ozone generators, reduce chlorine consumption and minimizes or eliminates potential chlorine hazards.
 
The Solution: Secondary Disinfection with Ozone or UV
Public health concerns over chloramines, Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs), and possible links 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 is represented, addresses water disinfection methodologies. The committee has explored a variety of issues surrounding pool water disinfection, and the resulting recommendation 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 and UV 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 findings and risks associated with chlorine alone.
 
DEL Promise
We believe in ensuring complete public safety, and educating the public about ways to reduce chemical usage through highly effective sanitizer solutions. Our people need to be safe, and our planet needs to be cared for. Ozone and ultraviolet systems presents the most effective, natural way to ensure this happens. The choice between utilizing an ozone or UV systems should be well thought out and applied appropriately per application. Please contact us for more information, and let us troubleshoot with you to advise on the most appropriate solution for your specific application.
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