You might remember my battles to convert our harmful saltwater pool into a natural pool last year. Well, I have finally succeeded. We now swim in a clear mountain pool – yes, the natural colour of water is brown. White or sea-through water is bleached and therefore chemically laden and not good for you or the environment.
Why would one bother to convert your pool? A 2010 research report by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) revealed that exposure to disinfection by-products (DPB) such as chlorine found in swimming pools, is a possible cause of bladder cancer.
Most regular swimmers know that a high chlorine content in swimming pools causes skin and eye irritation. But the health risks posed by swimming pool chlorine are potentially more dangerous than rashes and red eyes. According to the NIEHS report published in September 2010, chlorine is also linked to chronic breathing problems, cancer, birth defects and erosion of tooth enamel.
Chlorine exposure causes birth defects
The research further indicates expectant mothers can expose themselves to a higher risk of birth defects by drinking the water, swimming in chlorinated water, taking a bath or shower, or even by standing close to a boiling kettle. Normal tap water contains surprising amounts of chlorine.
According to Dr Lance Wallace of the US Environmental Protection Agency, “showering is suspected to be the primary cause of elevated levels of chloroform in nearly every home because of chlorine in the water.”
Chlorine in tap water also has a very negative cosmetic effect, robbing our skin and hair of moisture and elasticity, resulting in a less vibrant and youthful appearance. Anyone who has ever swum in a chlorinated pool can relate to the harsh effects chlorine has on the skin and hair.
“What’s frightening is that our tap water commonly contains higher levels of chlorine than are recommended as safe for swimming pools!” he says.
Children are five times more likely to develop asthma if they swim in chlorinated pool water one hour per day for a total of 500 hours, according to researchers at the Catholic University in Belgium. Chlorine gas was first used as a chemical weapon at Ypres, France, in 1915. It is an irritant that causes acute damage in the upper and lower respiratory tract. Irritant gases and aerosols contaminating the air around indoor swimming pools can affect the lung epithelium and increase asthma risk in children.
Salt chlorinators banned due to harmful effects
Would it make more sense to replace chlorine with salt water in your pool? It turns out a saltwater pool is not chlorine-free; it simply uses a chlorine generator instead of direct addition of chlorine. Electrolysis of salt is done with salt chlorinators, and produces a chlorine gas. In the swimming pool the gas combines with water to form sodium hypochlorite, which is basically liquid chlorine or bleach. Many areas worldwide are now banning salt chlorinator systems because of the harmful effects of salt on local waterways and wetlands.
So now you can also convert your chemical swimming pool into a healthy, natural one. One of the easiest and most affordable ways is to create a floating island from natural materials.
Creating a natural pool can be a hugely expensive operation. You will know that our mission is to prove that you don’t have to be rich to be green. So we used natural materials and have made a video to show how you too can do it with limited funds. Here Pierre shows you how he built the island for our pool:
Natural coil materials are available from Pierre Depaepe from Riverside Aquatics. You can plant up your island with almost any plants from your garden. So far even succulents are happy. Go to www.riversideaquatics.co.za or call 0721540717 for your own Island Kit.
The Island Kit consists of:
- 2 x 4sqm of coir geo textiles
- 4 kg of coir loose fibre
- 2x650g coco peat briquettes and a packet of cable ties
The price, including postage, is normally R450.00. For Green Times readers it is only R425.00. Remember to mention the Green Times. Please keep in touch and let us know how it goes with your natural pool.