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Thread: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

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    What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Wife says kids are complaining their eyes are burning after swimming. I also notice a slight "chlorine" odor. Chemistry seems fine to me.

    FC 7
    CC 0.5
    pH 7.5
    CH 250
    TA 130
    CYA 40

    Water is nice and clear.

    Thoughts?
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    The chlorine smell is usually due to the CC level. I think both CC and pH can cause your eyes to burn, esp low pH. I maybe wrong but sun screen can also cause your eyes to burn. The fact you have 0.5 CC would be my best guess.
    39YO 13K gallon former SWAMP/MONEY PIT, concrete bottom/Fiberglass Walls, Ecotech VS pump, Hayward Sand Filter, Dolphin DX5 Plus, Loop-Loc safety cover and YES, I have a TFT-100 test kit!

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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    What CC level would cause an odor? I am at 0.5 and I occasionally see 1.0. Is that enough?

    How low would pH needed to be to burn? I am at 7.5 but I have been as low as 7.1 as I have been working down the TA with acid and aeration cycles.
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    The classic "chlorine pool" smell is from chloramines.... compounds of chlorine plus ammonia. Bottom line? The kids are peeing in the pool.

    You are going to have to superchlorinate the pool to rid yourself of the chloramines.... after that? Make sure the kids get out of the pool, so often, and steer them towards the toity..... or at least off the deck...(facing away from the pool).

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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Well, 1 ppm for sure...if you occasionally see 1 ppm then you need to SLAM that sucker! I do believe even small amounts of CC can cause issues with people that are sensitive. The normal tear ph is 6.5 - 7.6, I would think it would be dependent on those values. A person with a ph of 7.6 might be irritated by a pH of anything lower or higher for that matter. That is just an educated guess...
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Sorry, I did not think about kids peeing...that would increase your CC!
    39YO 13K gallon former SWAMP/MONEY PIT, concrete bottom/Fiberglass Walls, Ecotech VS pump, Hayward Sand Filter, Dolphin DX5 Plus, Loop-Loc safety cover and YES, I have a TFT-100 test kit!

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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    I have trouble reading PH above 7.5, it all looks about the same to me. My girls will complain of burning eyes and I'll lower PH to 7.2, and their eyes no longer burn. I've learned to keep PH slightly orange looking (to me) and they're happy.
    Dan D
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    First I would ask, after how long swimming, are they complaining?

    Usually pH and CC are the common irritants, although your current numbers don't indicate typically irritating levels. Over one CC, and pH low or high. Say 6.8 or less and perhaps 7.9 or higher. Your level of 7.0 at 40 Cya is slightly high however, but honestly it's about where mine always is and it's never an issue here, myself included. If you frequently see 1.0 CC, it's much more likely to be an issue for you.
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Another question might be: How long are they swimming? 8 hours in the pool and its going to happen, anyway.

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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    I've never had my my ph lower than maybe 7.3 or 7.4 so I don't know where the irritation starts on the low end. Last year I could tell when it got to 7.8 or so because that's when my eyes got irritated. Earlier this year we had a bunch of friends kids over and they all said their eyes burned. When I got home I tested everything and it all seemed in line. The next day the pool was a little cloudy. Added a couple gallons of liquid chlorine and it cleared up. Few days later most of them were back again. Same story. I did a slam, and everything is good now. It ended up being all the kids peeing in the pool, dropping fc and spiking cc temporarily. They would get irritated eyes, but the sun would burn off the cc before I got home to test the water. There's no place in a pool for pee. Had to make sure all the parents understood. It ended up being a half embarrassing situation for everyone. I had to tell them their kids were peeing in the pool, they had to realize their kids were peeing in my pool, and the kids had to be told not to do it. After enough time in the water your eyes will get irritated no matter what. It's not the instant sting associated with high or low ph and high cc's though.


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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Well, a little oversimplifeid, but the Washington Post just released this video: What's really irritating your eyes in the pool
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    usually they are swimming 2 or 3 hours

    I don't know if it is true or not, but my wife swears this is new since I got on the TFP methods. Previously, I just had a Taylor K-1004 DPD high range test kit and only monitored FC and pH regularly. I relied on the pool store for CH, TA and CYA testing. I have a Frog that was slowly adding trichlor (and copper and stuff from the mineral cartridge and CYA from the trichlor) and I supplemented with 12% liquid. Basically, the Frog put in enough to maintain the FC when the pool was not in use, and I added liquid pretty regularly when it was being used. I was keeping my CYA around 30 to 40 and maintaining the FC from 2 to 5 or so (I don't really know how high I was since I could only test to 5, but I know there were times that I was higher).

    Earlier this summer, I had a big algae bloom and ammonia that I could not kill with the pool store's advice. And they helped me make it worse by telling me to add granular which drove my CYA way up and my pH way down. So I found TFP (thankfully), got things back under control, performed a SLAM and got the pool back looking really nice. When that was done, I had a green tint to the water which I believe was either copper from the heater core due to low pH during the bloom, copper accumulated from the frog or iron accumulated from my well water. At any rate, I used a sequestering agent (Sequa Sol which I believe uses HEDP), and the green tint went away.

    Since then the pool has been looking good and staying clear. I am targeting 5 to 7 FC based on the CYA of 40. There has been one occasion where the FC dropped to about 2 after a really big pool party, but I got it right back up. Other than that, I have stayed between 5 and 10 FC. I have been cycling the pH between 7.2 and 7.7 by alternatively adding MA and aerating to work my TA down. Other than that, just adding 12% liquid a gallon or two when needed based on use and testing. The Frog is still in service just so I have a way to keep up the slow continuous addition rather than add liquid every day. But I am watching my CYA so it does not creep up, and I am refilling with soft water as needed to top off after filter flushes to keep the CH from going any higher and hopefully minimize the iron coming from the well water, and that seems to be keeping the CYA from getting higher. I plan to switch to a liquid pump next season. And although I know that the Frog is still adding copper, I just figure I will add sequestering agent again if needed.

    So my only issue right now is the complaints from the wife about the slight odor and the kids complaining about their eyes burning.

    So far, I have heard the following possibilities.
    1) kids peeing in the pool making chloramines
    2) kids are swimming a long time and that is just to be expected
    3) add salt to increase the salinity to irritate their eyes less
    4) high CC
    5) high or low pH

    and I have the following questions related to those possibilities
    1) can I test for chloramines? would an ammonia test confirm this? how do I get rid of them?
    4) I normally see 0.5 CC, some times 1.0 - is that too high or high enough to irritate eyes? is that CC level an indication of a need to SLAM? if they are indeed peeing in the pool, does that CC level still call for a SLAM?
    5) would a pH between 7.1 and 7,7 be an issue for eye irritation?

    thanks for all of the input - sorry for the long story - I just thought it would be good to ensure you know the history of the pool chemistry recently
    30,000 gal IG 20x40 8ft deep end vinyl liner in NE Ohio DOB Sept 2012
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Your CCs routinely being 0.5 to 1 is a bit concerning and perhaps you need to have a talk with the kids about peeing in the pool, depending on ages. I would try testing for CC (which is chloramines and other types of combined chlorine) with your FAS-DPD test early in the morning before they get in the pool and shortly after or even during when they are swimming. 1 ppm could irritate the eyes if consistently at that level while swimming. An overnight chlorine loss test (OCLT) is a good way to see if a SLAM is needed.

    Your pH is fine. I've never had an issue with my pool at pH usually about 7.6, sometimes at 7.2 or up to 7.8.

    Also, why are you maintaining an FC range that high? At 40 CYA, you only need to always have it at 3 at all times and target perhaps 5 to 6 FC when adding. Pool School - Chlorine / CYA Chart There's certainly no reason to have it up to 10 FC unless you know there are going to be many people in the pool for a long period. Are you losing more than 3-4 FC per day?
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Quote Originally Posted by bkfamily1 View Post
    usually they are swimming 2 or 3 hours

    I don't know if it is true or not, but my wife swears this is new since I got on the TFP methods. Previously, I just had a Taylor K-1004 DPD high range test kit and only monitored FC and pH regularly. I relied on the pool store for CH, TA and CYA testing. I have a Frog that was slowly adding trichlor (and copper and stuff from the mineral cartridge and CYA from the trichlor) and I supplemented with 12% liquid. Basically, the Frog put in enough to maintain the FC when the pool was not in use, and I added liquid pretty regularly when it was being used. I was keeping my CYA around 30 to 40 and maintaining the FC from 2 to 5 or so (I don't really know how high I was since I could only test to 5, but I know there were times that I was higher).

    Earlier this summer, I had a big algae bloom and ammonia that I could not kill with the pool store's advice. And they helped me make it worse by telling me to add granular which drove my CYA way up and my pH way down. So I found TFP (thankfully), got things back under control, performed a SLAM and got the pool back looking really nice. When that was done, I had a green tint to the water which I believe was either copper from the heater core due to low pH during the bloom, copper accumulated from the frog or iron accumulated from my well water. At any rate, I used a sequestering agent (Sequa Sol which I believe uses HEDP), and the green tint went away.

    Since then the pool has been looking good and staying clear. I am targeting 5 to 7 FC based on the CYA of 40. There has been one occasion where the FC dropped to about 2 after a really big pool party, but I got it right back up. Other than that, I have stayed between 5 and 10 FC. I have been cycling the pH between 7.2 and 7.7 by alternatively adding MA and aerating to work my TA down. Other than that, just adding 12% liquid a gallon or two when needed based on use and testing. The Frog is still in service just so I have a way to keep up the slow continuous addition rather than add liquid every day. But I am watching my CYA so it does not creep up, and I am refilling with soft water as needed to top off after filter flushes to keep the CH from going any higher and hopefully minimize the iron coming from the well water, and that seems to be keeping the CYA from getting higher. I plan to switch to a liquid pump next season. And although I know that the Frog is still adding copper, I just figure I will add sequestering agent again if needed.

    So my only issue right now is the complaints from the wife about the slight odor and the kids complaining about their eyes burning.

    So far, I have heard the following possibilities.
    1) kids peeing in the pool making chloramines
    2) kids are swimming a long time and that is just to be expected
    3) add salt to increase the salinity to irritate their eyes less
    4) high CC
    5) high or low pH

    and I have the following questions related to those possibilities
    1) can I test for chloramines? would an ammonia test confirm this? how do I get rid of them?
    4) I normally see 0.5 CC, some times 1.0 - is that too high or high enough to irritate eyes? is that CC level an indication of a need to SLAM? if they are indeed peeing in the pool, does that CC level still call for a SLAM?
    5) would a pH between 7.1 and 7,7 be an issue for eye irritation?

    thanks for all of the input - sorry for the long story - I just thought it would be good to ensure you know the history of the pool chemistry recently
    1. CC is combined chloramines, which you already test for. UV rays and chlorine break down CC.
    4. .5 can and 1 usually will cause irritation.
    5. 7.1 might irritate some. 7.7 might not, but is getting close to what irritates me.


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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Quote Originally Posted by bkfamily1 View Post
    1) can I test for chloramines? would an ammonia test confirm this? how do I get rid of them?
    Yes, it would. Most people find the test kits at an aquarium store.

    Quote Originally Posted by bkfamily1 View Post
    4) I normally see 0.5 CC, some times 1.0 - is that too high or high enough to irritate eyes? is that CC level an indication of a need to SLAM? if they are indeed peeing in the pool, does that CC level still call for a SLAM?
    TFP generally uses .5 ppm as a maximum. Some books adopt the 1 ppm limit. Personally, I'm freaking out at .4 ppm.... I've never been there, but at 1 ppm I would be seriously considering SLAM.

    Quote Originally Posted by bkfamily1 View Post
    5) would a pH between 7.1 and 7,7 be an issue for eye irritation?
    YMMV. Some folks are complaining at the upper range.... and I, personally, think that is more about reducing the effectiveness of chlorine at higher pH than pH per se. I try to keep my pH closer to 7.5 than 7.7, again, YMMV.

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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like "chlorine? "

    Quote Originally Posted by JVTrain View Post
    I would try testing for CC early in the morning before they get in the pool and shortly after or even during when they are swimming

    An overnight chlorine loss test (OCLT) is a good way to see if a SLAM is needed.

    why are you maintaining an FC range that high?
    good idea - I will test at specific times to see if I can catch the relationship between when they are swimming (and peeing?) and the CC levels

    I have not looked at OCLT recently, but will try to do so tonight - last time I did, it was <1

    I was aiming for a target of 5 per the FC/CYA chart - but I was trying to stay a bit high due to the use patterns of my pool - we have 9 children, and when the pool is used, it is usuaully used heavily, including not just our kids but friends and neighbors, and for long periods (2 or 3 hours or longer) - and my wife usually does not plan things, they just happen - so I can come home from work to a pool full of kids that have been swimming all day, and I can find the FC down 2 or 3 or 4 ppm from what it was the night before - so I try to stay a couple over the target of 5 - if that does not happen, and I come home to the pool closed up and it has not been used that day, the FC will be the same or maybe up or down 1 from the night before - typically, if it is cool, it may have increased from the slow addition of trichlor from the Frog - if it is hot, then it may have dropped a tad - I have always concluded that higher temps mean higher FC consumption rates, so it may drop faster than the Frog adds, and cooler temps mean lower consumption, so it may climb a bit

    by the way, I do turn off the Frog when I do an OCLT
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like &quot;chlorine? &quot;

    You should make sure that your pool is exposed to sunlight as that helps break down some chloramines (especially dichloramine, but also helps indirectly with urea/chlorourea via hydroxyl radicals).

    1 cup of urine is equivalent to 5 person-hours in a pool and the resulting chloramines can be irritating. You shouldn't have 0.5 to 1.0 ppm CC in your pool. In my pool that is used every day by my wife for about an hour the CC almost always registers <= 0.2 ppm and only rarely 0.2 to 0.4 ppm (this is measured using a 25 ml water sample). Though we have a pool cover, exposing the water every day to sun keeps CC in check, but even once a week opening the pool to sunlight for a day would make a huge difference.

    Also, if you get a lot of debris in your pool such as pollen, you can use skimmer socks to capture it and remove it since it's easier than cleaning the filter. Anything trapped in the filter will continue to react with chlorine until the filter is cleaned/backwashed.

    Your FC of 7 ppm with 40 ppm CYA is on the higher side where some people start to notice more chlorine smell, but that's a "clean bleach" smell, not the "bad pool smell" of chloramines. If you have the FC that high because you are losing more chlorine every day, then you could consider bumping up your CYA to 50 ppm or so. However, I'd get your CCs in line first and then see what you wife thinks.
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like &quot;chlorine? &quot;

    "You should make sure that your pool is exposed to sunlight as that helps break down some chloramines"

    Interesting - when not in use, our pool is pretty much always closed up tight with the autocover. And it seems to me like you notice the smell mostly right when you open the cover.
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    Mod Squad tim5055's Avatar
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like &quot;chlorine? &quot;

    Quote Originally Posted by bkfamily1 View Post
    Interesting - when not in use, our pool is pretty much always closed up tight with the autocover. And it seems to me like you notice the smell mostly right when you open the cover.
    I think you have your answer.
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    Re: What makes eyes burn? Smells like &amp;quot;chlorine? &amp;quot;

    Tell the kids you've added that chemical that turns blue when they pee in the pool.

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