Well-written article underplays chlorine's role in new pool purifiers.

Posted by Audrey Moores at Sep 01, 2011 06:00 AM |

An article in the Wall Street Journal describes the growing interest in different types of disinfection systems for home and public swimming pools. The reporter does a good job of presenting this interesting – but technically complex – topic in a short space. It is a good example of an article that is able to cover the scientific, commercial and health aspects of a familiar object like a pool.

Overall, it informs readers of the burgeoning number of options now available to kill disease-causing microbes in pool water. These include chlorine addition alone, chlorine generation from saltwater and electricity, ultraviolet disinfection, ozone and metal ions pulsed through the water.

However, one point could have been clearer. In the saltwater system that is featured in the article, chlorine is still used – just at lower levels. This means that most of the same chlorine byproducts are generated. While this is brought up by the reporter when discussing some of the examples, a direct explanation would have helped readers grasp this idea near the beginning of the story. Also, the headline was misleading regarding this subtlety.

Dangerous chemicals can form when chlorine reacts with leaves and other organic matter that fall into the water: sunscreens, hair products and other chemicals brought into the pool by swimmers; and sweat, urine and other body fluids. Notably, this is how the chemical byproducts that cause the smelly, itchy feel of conventional pool water are formed. The byproducts are tied to other health effects, too. While asthma was mentioned, other research suggests the disinfectant byproducts are also linked to a type of cell damage associated with cancer

In general, the article covers the topic thoroughly and explains simply the most important aspects of the complex science and technology behind pool disinfection.

Creative Commons License
The above work by Environmental Health News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.environmentalhealthnews.org.