June 11, 2008 at 10:43AM
by Deirdre Dolan
I just got caught driving behind four massive trucks delivering pool water on the way to catch a train and it got me thinking about processed water and cooling off. It seems like there are so many invisible and odorless chemicals to be on the lookout for these days that super obvious ones like chlorine can get overlooked. Its been used to clean up the water we drink, swim in and bathe in for so long because its cheap and very effective. But, whenever possible, it should be removed to avoid the trihalomethanes (THM) that are formed when it reacts with naturally occurring organic material in water -- and that are also suspected carcinogens.
At home, most of the chlorine in tap water is removable with a carbon carafe pitcher, and its of course very easy to replace conventional cleaners that contain it with greener versions, but swimming pools pose a bigger challenge. If you swim in a public pool you dont have much control over exposure other than to steer clear of unventilated indoor ones (chlorine gases hover above the water and can damage lungs and cause asthma). If youre thinking about putting in your own pool there are a number of companies inventing creative ways to sanitize water without chemicals. For $5,500 TechnoPure uses a low voltage DC current into a stream of water; DEL Ozone injects ozone gas into the water as it recirculates.
Yes, lots of companies are out there working on non-chlorine solutions for your pool, but the majority of people reading this are probably thinking about pools on a much smaller scale. This year I was unsuccessful finding a vinyl-free wading pool for my daughters to cool off in (if youve know of one do tell), and so I bought a hard plastic one at my local hardware store for $12.99 instead. The current thinking is that a soft vinyl PVC wading pool is likely to have more phthalates than a hard one, and thus the worse of two evils.
Id love to hear about more creative solutions to trapping water to cool ourselves down. I just read some great comments from people in the south reminiscing about cooling off in whiskey barrels and the corrugated metal washing tubs of their childhoods on Grist. And since my older daughter loves to squeeze herself into small boxes and laundry baskets it made me realize shed probably prefer cooling off in a small tub than in the one I bought her anyway.
If you have any other great ways to bring down your body temp please post. My husband and I are thinking about using an air conditioner for the first time this summer because we have small children who busily move their bodies around all day long, but we still havent installed it. Our secret to cooling down is to take an ice cold shower before bed and then stand in front of our commercial roll-around fan (used to cool an entire pharmacy in the Bronx forty years ago) until we have goosebumps. It takes some deep breaths to deal with standing in front of it at first, but it brings down your core temperature enough for sleep, a necessity with the 100 degrees in Brooklyn today.