Anyone who’s ever been inside a building that houses an indoor swimming pool most likely remembers how it smells, and it’s not usually a pleasant memory. The familiar “chlorine smell” can be overwhelming, and the foul air quality at the vast majority of indoor pool facilities can burn the eyes and even restrict breathing. When I look at lifeguards who spend hours in these environments, I wonder how they do it. I guess it’s true you can get used to almost anything if you’re exposed to it long enough.
And therein lies the proverbial rub. We’ve learned to accept bad air quality associated with indoor swimming pools as normal, believing that the rancid air is inevitable because pool water has to be chlorinated. In fact, bad air quality is so accepted that many people mistakenly think that the smell of what they think is chlorine indicates that the pool is being properly treated. Truth is, it’s not, just the opposite, and it’s time to dispel these antiquated myths:
Myth 1: Clean water has an odor.
Water that smells bad is not being managed correctly. Water should never have an odor. The chlorine odor is actually the result of disinfection by–products, a category of chemical compounds that form as a result of chlorine killing germs and oxidizing organic compounds from things like sweat, urine, and suntan lotion. Essentially, the smell is due to what one might consider used chlorine.
Myth 2: Clean indoor pool water has an odor.
In a properly treated body of water, disinfection by–products do not exist. And this leads to the even bigger myth…indoor pools don’t actually have to smell bad. In fact, no pool or spa, residential or commercial, indoor or outdoor, large or small, heavily or lightly used, none of them ever have to reek. When they do, something is wrong.
Indoor pools are just like outdoor pools in this regard except for the fact that the water vapor emitted by evaporation and condensation needs be removed from the space by dehumidification technology or vented outside through air handlers and/or open windows. When most designers and engineers think about managing indoor air quality, they think in terms of air-handling and dehumidification systems. Again, because there is an errant assumption that treated water always smells and the only solution is to move the bad air out and good air in.
While I agree air-quality systems do play an important role, it makes far more sense to approach indoor air quality by more effectively managing the source of the problem, i.e., inadequate water treatment. In other words, go to the source rather than relying on what amounts to a bandage. Fact is, bad water quality leads directly to bad air quality, so the real answer is to ensure water that measures up to a higher standard.
The Air You Share
The challenge is nothing new. Any time humans enter a body of water, they are going to contribute contaminants that need to be removed either by draining and refilling (the way it was done in pools in the early 20th century) or chemically, typically using chlorine. Yes, bather hygiene can help, but that will never alter the fact that humans are the biggest factor negatively impacting water quality.
In the modern world, we have another, far superior option in the form of machinery that does the job more effectively than traditional treatment methods. We have the ability to apply treatment technology to any aquatic environment so that water quality does not vary due to usage. We know how to manage turnover rates, filtration, and control so that even if a team of grimy Little Leaguers jump in the water, the system responds immediately to the increased treatment demand.
Our pools, which we call SRK HydroZone 3® pools, utilize combinations of ozone, UV, and small amounts of chlorine in robust circulation, filtration, and control systems. Every body of water is different and there is no one-size-fits-all; each system is unique based on usage, size, desired temperature, and various environmental factors. But the result is the same: a superior aquatic experience. Among other things, that means the water never smells.
A New Normal
That can come as a big surprise to some people when they experience water that not only doesn’t smell but also enhances air quality and the overall feel of the space with water vapor that is untainted by toxic chemical by–products.
Our water ingratiates your body and your spirit, whether you’re in it or just near it. The clarity, cleanliness, and soothing texture are tough to describe, but once our clients experience this level of quality, they’re hooked and no longer accept the status quo of compromised water conditions.
People who elevate their expectations become impassioned and are often willing to demand the level of performance our systems deliver. Because air quality is so crucial to the health of people using an indoor pool, there should be no room for complacency when treating the water. Accepting the unacceptable needs to immediately become a fixture of the past.
The future should instead be defined by quality water and that also means air that is healthful and enjoyable to breathe.