How do you like your water? I think most of us would agree that whether you’re drinking it, bathing or swimming in it, the cleaner and more natural the better.
We are lucky enough to have safe, clean water delivered straight to our taps at home, though some of us do filter water to further reduce heavy metals and residues that may be present near farms or industrial areas. This is personal choice of course, but bottled water companies take full advantage of our concerns with images of water tumbling down glaciers, evoking feelings of purity, clarity and, of course, referencing its natural source. One bottled water is reportedly linked to wells that are blessed by the clergy – the nearest some of us might get to holy water!
Aside from our drinking water, we also need to take into account water that we bathe or swim in. Is this clean and pure enough for us? Our skin is after all the largest organ of our bodies, so we need to be mindful of exactly what chemicals are in our water when we swim, whilst also protecting ourselves from potentially hazardous bacteria and micro-organisms. This is something the leisure industry has been working on for quite some time, in order to produce cleaner and greener alternatives.
Traditionally chlorine has been used to disinfect swimming pools, making it safe to swim. However, large doses can have side effects such as burning eyes, red or itchy skin, an overpowering smell and even corrosive effects on the buildings themselves, over time. The main reason for these problems is the production of chloramines in the water, caused by the reaction of free chlorine residuals with organic materials, such as the bacteria brought in to the environment by pool users.
Chlorine is a very effective way of ensuring pool water is safe for everyone and has meant that people have been able to swim safely together for years – but is there a better way, one that doesn’t have the potential side effects of chlorine?
Luckily science may have the answer – ultra-violet water treatment. This is a relatively new treatment in which a medium-pressure UV system breaks down and removes problem chloramines, which are formed when free chlorine reacts with organics such as sweat, body fats and urine, brought into the pool environment by bathers. It is these chloramines that can cause reactions. Additionally, medium-pressure UV systems provide an increased level of disinfection, protecting against the 17 known chlorine-resistant micro-organisms such as cryptosporidium and giardia – which have a thick outer membrane, making them highly resistant to traditional chemical disinfection – increasing safety and limiting the risk.
Chlorine is still used, but in much lower levels. Anecdotal evidence suggests that even those with sensitive skin are able to swim in pools treated with the new ultra-violet treatment systems. Problems with itchy skin, burning red eyes, chlorine smell and corrosive condensation are eliminated and the pool water is safely transformed to sparkling and glacier-clear, offering a much more inviting and healthy bathing environment for everybody.
If you are interested in the new ultra-violet treatment system, Oxley Sports Centre has just installed the new technology. Initial feedback is good, but why not try for yourself?
The science of crystal clean
Samantha Kirk, Centre Manager, Oxley Sports Centre
102 | Sherborne Times | November 2017