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Thread: Chlorine is obsolete

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    Chlorine is obsolete

    Dr. Andrew Weil, one of America's most preeminent doctors and public-health spokespeople, ends his most recent online newsletter with the claim, "Chlorine-based disinfection of swimming pools is obsolete." See

    http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA36111...-chlorine.html

    In response to a reader's question, he reviews the dangers of chlorine on children (asthma, hay fever and other allergies) as well as adults (bladder and rectal cancer and, possibly, an increased risk for coronary heart disease). He cites a Belgian study published just this last September in the Journal Pediatrics, as well as a 2003 Belgian study on the effects of trichloramine. The recent study compared the effects of chlorine against a "copper-silver disinfecting method". He says that his own pool uses a silver-copper ion generator and ends with his statement that chlorine is obsolete.

    I know that his conclusion and recommendation goes against the "standard wisdom" espoused by TFP, so I would be interested in seeing some responses to his newsletter and the recent study.
    Todd Wilson, Fresno, CA (July: 82o avg, 110o max; Dec: 45o avg, 15o min)
    Pool: IG, pebbled, 21K gal, 520 ft2 4-cartridge filter, 1.5 hp pump, Paramount PV3 in-floor cleaning system
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Well, it strikes me that if 'ole Andy Weil was really such a preiminent authority on just about everything, he wouldn't have the financial need to advertise all the quackery that's on his website. I'm jus' sayin............
    Dave S. - Forum owner
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Also note this statement:

    Another Belgian study, published in 2003, showed that an irritant released when chlorinated water reacts with urine, sweat or other organic matter from swimmers increased the risk of asthma among children who regularly swam in public pools. This irritant, trichloramine, is believed to damage the cellular barrier that protects the lungs. Blood samples showed elevated trichloramine levels even among individuals who sat at the side of pools but didn’t swim.
    One of things that bothers me about these studies is that they never separate the results into properly maintained pools and poorly maintained pools. Quite a few public pools are either poorly maintained or have such a high load that they never can be properly maintained. I suspect that most of the problems attributed to chlorine are really from chloramines (combined chlorine). If they are not removed in a timely manner or the FC is not high enough to remove them, then eventually they will become an irritant.
    Mark
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    I'm only going to make two comments that neither prove nor disprove. And I haven't read the article. BTW.... I switched from Ionization in my pool, and ionization/ozone in my spa just this late summer. Right before I switched the spa to BBB, I fought a bio-slime for several months, that eventually gave me a KILLER bladder infection that took a round each of two different antibiotics along with specific pain meds. My whole life I have had extra-ordinary resistance to most bacteria and have only taken antibiotics a few times in my life.

    A very good friend of mine has a 12 yr old brother who has a congenital immune problem. He is just short of being a "bubble child". He takes some kind of infusions, I think weekly or maybe monthly. He, also, has asthma, and until starting the infusions, last year, had to go to ER at least twice a month, asthma related. His parent use chlorine in their pool and the only problem he has is getting too chilled, and he spends a lot of time playing in the pool. He was born with this condition. They have lived in the house with pool for about 7 years and, as far as I know, the only problem has been with getting chilled. This is an outside pool. That probably makes a huge difference.

    I have been somewhat contact chlorine residual/contaminants (contaminants probably the key word here) sensitive most of my life, I swam on two swim teams during my early to late teens; one indoor (school team), the other outdoor pool in summer. Evidently the pools were pretty well maintained as I don't remember any breakouts, rashes, or hives as long as I didn't stay in my swim suit for hours after swimming.

    gg=alice
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    OPINION

    I think Dr. Weil was way ahead of his time in his withering criticism of the anti-drug laws, and the dubious studies that were used to support them for so long. He was a Harvard wiz-kid and seems to knows a lot about nutrition, among other subjects. His stance on chlorine may also be ahead of its time... or just a blip in the scientific narrative, a mistaken idea that will be disproved. If so, he wouldn't be alone.

    Many of history's most distinguished medical scientists (from Galen to Koch to Salk) made claims during their careers that were later shown to be spurious or filed patents for treatments that proved ineffectual. Plate tectonics was disparaged for a half-century, as were the antiseptic principles of surgery; both proved correct. On the other hand, the "science" of phrenology had but few doubters in the 19th century. Approximately zero adherents today.

    It's of interest to me that the object of danger he speaks about in the column is trichloramine -- this is not Free Chlorine, but a chlorine compound. One could take away from this, as mentioned already by a poster earlier in this thread, that a well-maintained pool would pose a much lower risk to these hyper-allergic and asthmatic adolescents.

    Another Belgian study, published in 2003, showed that an irritant released when chlorinated water reacts with urine, sweat or other organic matter from swimmers increased the risk of asthma among children who regularly swam in public pools. This irritant, trichloramine, is believed to damage the cellular barrier that protects the lungs. Blood samples showed elevated trichloramine levels even among individuals who sat at the side of pools but didn’t swim.




    MORE INFO

    For more on the potential dangers posed by high levels of trichloramines, see the following articles (both PDF format).

    http://www.drydenaqua.com/afm/applicati ... ramine.pdf

    http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/trichloram ... 1-7-08.pdf
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    A warm welcome to TFP!! Thanks for showing us this


    Is there a way to respond to what the 'good' doctor wrote? I strongly suspect serious flaws in the Belgium study (the largest is what Mark pointed out).

    Also, according to the scientific method, you can't make 'across the board' presumptions from 1 experiment (repeatability is one of the cornerstones)

    There is also the issue of waterborne contaminants (bio-nasties) that the silver/ copper can't kill (or the kill time is too long)!

    To get to the point: I simply don't believe that the results nor his interpretation are correct and certainly! not a reason to ditch chlorine for sanitizing pools
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    I wrote about the Belgian studies a couple of months ago in this thread.

    In the article you linked to, Dr. Weil says he uses a Sigma System silver-copper ion generator such as described here. However, as noted here, the system is used with chlorine in commerical/public pools because chlorine, or some other form of EPA-approved sanitizer, is required in such pools, mostly because ion systems do not kill pathogens as quickly as chlorine. Even the German DIN 19643 standard still uses chlorine, though at a level of 0.3 to 0.6 ppm with no CYA and filtration with activated carbon which removes all chloramines, as well as chlorine, so that chlorine must be reinjected later on.

    If you use just an ion system (and ignore the lower level of sanitation), then you still need some sort of oxidizer or enzyme system to get rid of bather waste. Otherwise, you'll eventually end up soaking in sweat and urine (mostly urea and ammonia).

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    As stated in the thread Richard posted, we have two asthmatics, our nine-yr old son and myself. Our son was a severe asthmatic from the age of two through six - we ended up in the ER on average of once each month. We have had no problems since beginning BBB in July 2008. It's been nice not having that ER bill hit every month! So IMHO, it's a bunch of bunk for the government to use to outlaw bleach for pool use....
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    I'm not saying chlorine is perfect, it's definitely a double edged sword but the risks don't outweigh the benefits when speaking of untreated drinking water. Which reminds me of what I say when someone mentions switching to baquacil vs. chlorine I say if baquacil was safer, better or cheaper your water company would use it in the drinking water, but they don't; they use chlorine.
    -Kevin
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    I think that the thing to take away from all this, is that pretty much any mis-managed sanitization system will be problematic. Here we believe in having informed and educated pool owners so that they can effectively manage the pool sanitization mechanism of their choice.
    I'm pretty sure that our chlorinated pools are much safer than other folks' 'alternatively-sanitized' pools, and most likely way more comfortable to swim in. I'm pretty sure that even Dr. Weil would have no trouble with his pool if he learned and applied the basic principles of BBB pool care.
    [center:1kpalu48]Helpful Links: Pool School | CYA/Chlorine Chart | Pool Calculator[/center:1kpalu48]

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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohm_Boy
    I'm pretty sure that even Dr. Weil would have no trouble with his pool if he learned and applied the basic principles of BBB pool care.
    Yes, that was the point I tried to make earlier. Weil is a scientist (... OK, a general practitioner in an Arizona clinic for the medically disenchanted!) but he's not immune to gaps in his education. Differentiating "chlorine" from the more malevolent trichloramines is something not even aquatics professionals have well-grasped. We're fortunate here to have an educable membership, many of whom have committed to learning about the nuances of pool chemistry.

    Thanks, Ohm_Boy, for articulating this.
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Not that it matters, but I did post to Dr. Weil's website here in 2006, but I'm not sure it went anywhere. There are some minor inaccuracies in what I wrote at that time since I hadn't caught the error of not measuring chlorine ppm in the correct units -- I was still using hypochlorous acid instead of chlorine gas molecular weight.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Quote Originally Posted by X-PertPool
    [snip] I say if baquacil was safer, better or cheaper - your water company would use it in the drinking water, but they don't; they use chlorine.
    Insert "fad of the day/month/year" for the word "baquacil" above, and this becomes the best line ever written (seriously, not sarcastically) on pool care.

    I'm going to steal and plagiarize this significantly from now on...

    - Jeff
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Studies are a dime a dozen...Authors can produce data that is convincing for anything. In order to validate any study - especially 'going against proven applications and common practices' one needs to understand the motivation of the author....especially in this current climate of environmental activity.
    I am not a believer on studies that want to ban or recommend a ban of a substance that flies in the face of historical application. Ignoring the type of chlorine chains, the people's health prior to the study? Condition of the pool/spa as mentioned before used to correlate that factor?
    Not saying this professional is off-base but rather in today's environment, the person's background and causes/motivation also need to be considered before we assume his credentials supercede practical postive applicable use.
    Barry
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Also found that this silver-copper ion generator system is not compatible with PVC and Liner pools.
    33x15 (17000 gallons) feet http://www.flickr.com/photos/4312999...7622362656171/
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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Quote Originally Posted by ganselmi
    Also found that this silver-copper ion generator system is not compatible with PVC and Liner pools.
    I didn't see any reference to where the system isn't compatible to PVC or liner pools -- do you have a link to that info?

    It's also not compatible with plaster or fiberglass pools if you want to avoid metal staining. When one uses a metal ion system, one has to be very, very careful about controlling the pH to prevent staining since the levels of silver and copper needed to provide even slow sanitation and prevention of algae growth are near the level that would stain the pool if the pH were to rise towards 8.0. Normally such metal ion pool systems try and maintain a pH of 7.5 or below.

    Note in the FAQ for the Sigma Water Systems copper/silver ion product that they say the following:

    Can I really have a chlorine free pool?

    YES. The Sigma III is designed to prevent algae and bacteria from growing in your pool water. Occasionally your pool may be filled with an overload of bacteria in a short period of time ( a storm or a pool party, for example). In such instances you will need to oxidize your pool in order to take care of the extreme levels of bacteria quickly. In this situation we recommend using a non-chlorine oxidizer, like potassium monopersulfate. Other oxidizers like household bleach or liquid chlorine can also be used. You won't need much, and if you put it in and let your pool circulate for a little while, the chemicals will be gone in no time. So if you use a non-toxic oxidizer, then YES, you can have a chlorine free pool.
    This just emphasizes the point that silver ions do not kill bacteria quickly enough to prevent person-to-person transmission of disease or to handle larger amounts of bacterial load. They are also hiding the fact that metal ions do not oxidize bather waste so if you don't use any kind of oxidizer at all, then your pool will build up ammonia, urea, creatinine, etc. from your sweat and urine along with whatever is in your fecal matter. It would be similar to using the same bathtub water over and over again.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    I've found this info on this web site, but it's in italian.

    http://www.piscina-online.com/trattamen ... gento.html

    There is a note in the bottom section "Non compatibile con Piscine con rivestimento in pvc, liner o pvc rinforzato"

    It also says that you still have to use clorine once a month.

    Very interesting is also the following system using diamond electrodes to produce active oxigen, this is 100% clorine free but really expensive, starting from $ 6.000.

    http://www.piscina-online.com/trattamen ... xineo.html
    33x15 (17000 gallons) feet http://www.flickr.com/photos/4312999...7622362656171/
    Magiline Magiclassic http://www.swimming-pools-magiline.com/
    SWG Compu-Pool CPSC-36 http://www.compupool.com.au/product/..._cleaning.html
    PH Control through Muriatic Acid

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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    The active oxygen system is essentially a modified ozone system that produces more hydroxyl free radicals that are stronger and much faster oxidizers than ozone. It's probably the best for fairly complete oxidation (though it's too early to know if other by-products are produced in this system), but it won't leave any residual sanitizer in the bulk pool water (well, that's not exactly true since it does actually generate some chlorine, but if it didn't then...). So if the system were truly chlorine-free then any bacteria in the water from your fecal matter that find their way to a pool wall will happily grow in a biofilm until it breaks off and splashes into someone's nose in such a large quantity that it overwhelms their immune system and causes them to be sick. This is one reason why a residual sanitizer is required in every commercial and public pool in the U.S. -- to prevent person-to-person transmission of disease and to prevent uncontrolled bacterial growth in the bulk pool water.

    The Oxineo product made by Adamant is described in more detail here and here. Their claim of "residual action of disinfectants" is only partially correct. The hydroxyl and other free radicals are very reactive and won't make it to the bulk pool water (i.e. they will react with carbonates in the water long before they leave their reaction chamber). Even ozone doesn't last very long and it's less reactive. Notice that they say that their system produces "peroxydicarbonates, hydrogen peroxide, peroxydisulphates, hypochlorite and more". Hypochlorite is chlorine. So their system is not chlorine-free, but it may produce relatively low amounts of chlorine and such chlorine is likely to be short-lived given the hydrogen peroxide that is produced. It is that small amount of chlorine that lets them claim a residual disinfectant. Whether it's enough or lasts long enough with normal bather load is unclear from their description of their product (it seems doubtful).

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    Quote Originally Posted by ganselmi
    Also found that this silver-copper ion generator system is not compatible with PVC and Liner pools.
    Happy New Year to to forum and members.
    Following on from Richard's post, I have been running a copper/silver and monopersulfate system for around 4 years now. I have a bacterial check carried out each year for my own benefit and the results have always been good. This year I took the sample for testing but unfortunately my French is not very good but I believe they carried out a pre test and the count was so low that it was not worth trying to grow any cultures from the sample. This annoyed me but it was too late as I had just shocked the pool with chlorine before closing it for winter.

    Regarding not using the system on vinyl liner pools, I have never heard that as vinyl contains several heavy metals used in it's manufacture and all metals have a positive charge they will repel each other so the chances of staining at normal levels is very low.

    I would NEVER use the system on either plastered or tiled pools as the very nature of the alkaline cement or grout will attract metal ions and so cause the metals to drop out of solution. The PH of the bulk pool water maybe correct but at the surface of the wall especially when brushed a high PH surface will interfere with the zeta charge of the metals, it requires a PH of 8.3 or more to drop copper out of suspension.

    As Richard has said silver and copper kill very slowly and in my own pool of 45,000 litres and a maximum bather load of 4 this is sufficient to keep things running fine (with monopersulfate) but and its a big but if anyone was suffering from diarrhea etc then you would want chlorine to be present to kill off quickly any infectious bacteria etc. Used correctly and that is what this forum teaches there is nothing wrong with using chlorine.

    Moving on to the Oxineo, Don't confuse marketing information will reality. The system is not chlorine free, it is a no added chlorine system. The manufacturers tell you to add a low level of salt to the pool so that along with the oxy radicals, chlorine is produced and is the residual sanitiser albeit at a low level as the other oxidisers are doing the bulk work of clearing organics from the water.

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: Chlorine is obsolete

    I just started using unobtainium in mine. Algae gone, water, gone, plaster gone, swimmers gone. Soon I'll go too... POOF!!! I'm gone!
    18' x 36' Vinyl Kidney 24,000 gallons
    Soon to have Salwater system up and running.
    Intelliflo pump, Colorlogic LED Light and a lot less money in the bank

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