Treating pools with chlorine or bromine can have negative side effects, not the least of which is relying on toxic chemicals.
Swimmers have long been plagued with higher than average rates of lung cancer from breathing chlorine byproducts, and many complain of asthma and irritated sinuses, skin and hair. (Disturbingly, pee and sweat in pool isn't just grimy, it can lead to formation of toxic chloramines.)
But chlorine has been the dominant form of pool water treatment for a long time, so alternatives haven't been easy to come by. Even saline systems end up producing chlorine in the water.
However, as the New York Times points out, a number of chlorine-free options are gaining some traction, despite some inertia and resistance from a stay-the-course chemical and pool industry.
The Times describes one pool owner who spent about $20,000 more on a new home pool to include a system that uses a combination of ozone and copper and silver ions. (Presumably not enough silver to turn her blue.)
The paper also profiled TechnoPure, a company that makes an alternative pool system. Water is pumped through a chamber containing coated titanium plates, which burn off organic waste. Copper and zinc ions then sanitize the water. Such a system costs a more affordable $5,500.
Another company, DEL Ozone, makes devices that inject ozone gas into the water, killing germs.
A more natural approach, long popular in Europe (big surprise) is pondlike pools that rely on aquatic plants and the balance of nature to keep harmful organisms and scum at bay. Some of them are really quite beautiful and peaceful.
Having your own pool is quite a luxury, particularly in our water-stressed world. But if you are going to go that route anyway, it's encouraging to know that more eco-friendly, healthier options are on the rise. Plus, don't forget that communal or municipal pools could be made over if enough people ask for it.
As one alternative pool dealer told the Times, Our target audience is the person who shops at Whole Foods.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.