Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Swimming, Skin and Pool Chemicals




If your eyes are sore from the swimming pool it’s probably you own fault; stop rubbing rub your eyes and it will probably fix it.

This is by far the most common cause of sore eyes because most commercial pool owners are usually very responsible with balancing the chemicals in the pool; despite common misconceptions.

If all you’re getting is sore eyes because you are rubbing them then the chlorine levels are almost certainly OK because otherwise you would be suffering from chemical burns on your skin, your eyes and nose would be burning, your swimwear would be fading and perishing all in a matter of hours. Most swimmers have guessed this if they didn’t already know it.

Chlorine levels that are too high will burn you. So when a swimmer blames the chlorine being too high as the cause of their sore eyes, it's probably not. Because chlorine levels that high are likely to do more that give you sore eyes. Any itchiness you get from high chlorine is probably from chemical burn. Unless of course you are allergic to the pool chemicals.  

What most swimmers don’t realize however, is that chlorine levels are not the only concern. You can have can very low chlorine chemicals in a pool but still have high pH levels. Your eyes will suffer, nose and skin all drying out and you can getting very itchy.

For those of you with a more technical bent, I have an article covering all the different measurements in the pool.

I worked for one privately run commercial pool owner who used a method called super saturating his pool over night. That is he used very high levels of chlorine over night so that he could maintain low levels of chlorine during the day. His theory was that all the bugs would be killed over night and the pool would therefore be safe for patrons during the day. Personally I’m not convinced it worked because I lost 2 fingernails and 2 toenails from fungal infections whilst I was there.

More than that in order to cut costs by minimizing the amount of acid to control it, he kept his pH levels at the highest allowable levels. I suffered terrible itching and dryness of skin at that pool; my nose was itchy as well and I was always sneezing.

Every pool owner has to sanitize their pool and no commercial pool owner will ever get the chemical levels in their pool 100% right; it’s just too hard. Besides, as I’ve said, if you are only getting sore eyes because you are rubbing them instead of blinking them then you probably have nothing to complain about. But if you are suffering form itchy and dry skin as well as itchy and dry eyes or a rash after being in the pool, you have every right to ask the owner to check the pool levels.

And sometimes there are unscrupulous owners out there that need to be prosecuted.

Next time I will discuss some of the things that you can do as a swimmer or swim teacher if your skin is not dealing well with lots of exposure to the pool water.

Enjoy
      Richard

1 comment:

  1. We always make sure our chemicals are in excellent balance at our pool. The vast majority of kids have no problems. Those that do are often rubbing their eyes as you describe. Great post!

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