What does it mean when there is such a strong “chlorine” smell?
When you walk into an aquatic facility—or any other building with an indoor pool—you might notice an odor you think is chlorine and you might even associate it with cleanliness. What you smell though is not chlorine at all, but harmful chloramines.
Chlorine is added to indoor pool water to address the nitrogen-containing compounds brought in by swimmers (think sweat, saliva, hair, skin and urine)
and keep the water clean. If the introduction of these nitrogen compounds outpaces the introduction of free chlorine, the chlorine combines with the nitrogen compounds (rather than fully oxidizing them) to produce chloramines (combined chlorines). What results? Higher chloramine levels in the pool water and an increase in chloramine off-gassing, causing the odor many people mistaken for chlorine. Monochloramine, dichloramine and trichloramine are the three different types of chloramines that can form.
Far from an indication of cleanliness, this odor tells you that there is not enough free chlorine to address the nitrogen compounds in the water and that airborne chloramines may be putting the health of swimmers and the integrity of the facility and its equipment at risk.
PoolPak equipment can be built to accommodate Paddock Evacuator® Technology, a source-capture system that pulls trichloramines from the water’s surface and, with the help of HVAC equipment, exhausts them outside the facility to significantly improve IAQ. Learn more about Paddock Pool Equipment and PoolPak on our website.
How do indoor pool owners ensure that good IAQ is maintained?
Indoor pool owners play an important role in maintaining good IAQ for swimmers and others who use or work in their facility. Here are a couple of ways owners can ensure good IAQ:
- Have an air distribution system that supplies sufficient air to the breathing zone, including across the water surface, and addresses areas prone to condensation (e.g., exterior windows). It also important that the HVAC system blends in the correct amount of outdoor air according to codes and that the grilles/diffusers have adequate throw distance to direct air where it needs to go.
- Control, reduce and eliminate chemicals off-gassing. It is possible for an indoor pool owner to address poor IAQ caused by chloramines (the chemical byproducts of chlorine doing its job) while choosing HVAC equipment. PoolPak equipment can be built to accommodate Paddock Evacuator® Technology, a source-capture system that pulls trichloramines from the water’s surface and, with the help of HVAC equipment, exhausts them outside the facility to significantly improve IAQ.
Indoor pool owners can also reduce contaminants entering the water and ultimately trichloramines by establishing an effective patron hygiene program. Ensuring a successful program may mean encouraging swimmers to shower prior to entering the pool, educating facility staff on the importance of it, posting signage about it inside the facility, frequent scheduled bathroom breaks during swim lessons and practices and not allowing street shoes, food, etc. on deck.
Technologies such as UV water treatment are available as well.
Learn more about Paddock Pool Equipment and PoolPak on our website.