If I dump too much chlorine in the pool, is it safe to swim in?
When you can smell the chlorine as soon as you near the pool, that means it’s working, right? Not necessarily. While chlorine is important for sanitizing pool water, that distinctive odor can be caused by too little or too much chlorine in the pool. How do you know if the water is safe for swimming? Here, we offer some important information about chlorine, including the signs of too much chlorine in a pool.
It may seem counterintuitive that the smell of chlorine can be the result of too little of the chemical in the water. However, the odor doesn’t actually come from the chlorine itself, but from the reaction between chlorine and compounds found in bodily fluids. This produces chloramine, and it’s equally as dangerous to your health as too much chlorine. Whether there’s too little or too much chlorine in the pool, side effects are similar.
- Both high and low chlorine levels can irritate your eyes. Chloramine has a very strong odor and can cause your eyes to sting and burn. High levels of chlorine, too, can cause watery, irritated eyes.
- Chlorine and chloramine are both problematic for the lungs. Especially for people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or a lung injury, too little or too much chlorine can cause lung irritation. Nasal irritation, coughing, and wheezing are all symptoms of unbalanced chlorine.
- Too much chlorine can damage your hair, skin, and nails. When the chlorine in your pool is balanced, swimming for a little while isn’t harmful to the skin or hair. However, even safe levels of chlorine can strip oils from skin and hair if you swim frequently. If there’s too much chlorine, it can not only make you feel itchy, cause your skin and hair to be dry and your nails to become brittle, but also turn blonde hair green. Different people respond differently, though, and for those with eczema, swimming in chlorine can sometimes actually be beneficial. Finding out how your own skin responds and keeping your chlorine balanced will help you avoid negative effects.
- One of the rarer symptoms of too much chlorine in the pool is chlorine poisoning. Inhaling or swallowing chlorine can cause chlorine poisoning, which can be dangerous enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. If you’ve been over-exposed to chlorine, you may experience blurred vision, red, blistered skin, burning in the eyes, nose, and throat, nausea, vomiting, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Fresh air can help and so can rinsing the eyes with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the symptoms persist or worsen, though, seek medical treatment.
- Mishandling chlorine can cause burns. It’s important to keep the correct amount of chlorine in your pool, but when you add chlorine, use caution and carefully read the instructions. Store chlorine in a well-ventilated place, on a tray that will contain any leaks or spills.
- You can minimize chlorine’s effects on your body. Don’t ever swim in a pool that’s improperly maintained. Even in a well-maintained pool, shower before and after you swim. Before you get into the pool, a shower will rinse oil and dirt off of your body, and it will also saturate your hair, reducing the amount of chlorine that can penetrate the shafts of your hair. After a swim, showering will rinse chlorine off of your skin and decrease its impact on your hair. Wear goggles to protect your eyes in the pool, and use eye drops after you swim. Moisturize your skin after swimming, too, to help restore the oils that have been stripped by the chlorine.
When you need someone to help maintain or repair your pool, Millennium Pools and Spas can help. With over 30 combined years of experience in the pool industry, we provide a comprehensive range of pool services for both residential and commercial customers in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. When you hire Millennium Pool Service, you get a well-qualified, industry-trained staff of pool contractors and technicians, services that are tailored to your needs, and a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction. Contact us for more information.