Concerned citizens address council

Trent Ernst, Editor


At the most recent meeting of council, a group of concerned citizens, including former District Director of Community Services Cheryl Hayden came before council to discuss their opposition to the proposal to convert the pool from the current salt water system to a chlorinated system.

Their concerns, said Hayden, the spokesperson for the group, are around the health issues that this conversion may cause. Our findings are based on personal research,” says Hayden.

Here are, according to Hayden, some of the health issues linked to Chlorine Systems:

Swimmers that experience itchiness, red skin or hives are not actually suffering from an allergy to Chlorine but the result of an irritant dermatitis, similar to a chemical burn caused by the hypersensitivity to chlorine.

The odds of children developing asthma increases with exposure to chlorine that can damage the respiratory thin tissue in children and increase their risk of lung disease.

Researchers have found that regularly visiting chlorinated pools is associated with an increased risk in developing asthma in young children.

It has been found that competitive swimmers are more prone to bronchospasm, a narrowing of their airways.

Pools that are not properly chlorinated can cause rapid and excessive erosion of dental enamel

A large majority of pregnant women frequent swimming pools to relive the stress placed on the body and studies have shown that they are potentially putting their fetus at risk by using chlorinated swimming pools. Harm can come to their fetus due to the toxic chemicals like chloroform, formed by a chemical reaction between chlorine and organic matter.

A study in the American Journal of epidemiology found that swimmers who regularly swam in chlorinated pools had a 57 percent greater risk of developing bladder cancer.

Chlorine is really hard on your skin, if this is unclear think about what it does to your swim suit! Lifeguards working in chlorinated pools replace their swimsuits at a rate of approximately one per month.

Chlorinated systems generate CACs (combined available chlorine) which is where the harmful chloramines are generated. Chloramines when absorbed into the air are respirable particulates, this harmful particulate matter can build up in the air and lead to respiratory issues. Salt water systems do not generate chloramines as there is no generation of CACs due to not having to add chemical chlorine to the system.

And here are some of the advantages of salt systems:

Salt water generation creates free available and total available chlorine using salt water that is passed through a production cell which has electric current (DC) passing through it. This method of electrolysis splits the salt into its chlorine element. Once the chlorine reacts with the bacteria in the water it turns back into salt and the cycle continues. Since this system provides the residual chlorine, a secondary system like chlorine is not needed, thereby eliminating the risk of handling a hazardous product.

Every time a chlorine gas cylinder is transported, connected, disconnected it places our employees and the public at risk. When adding salt to the pool water minimal safety equipment is required. In addition with this system, a less harsh acid is used to control the PH – muratic acid versus hydrochloric acid.

Lowered use of Toxic Chemicals makes it safer for district staff, swimmers and the environment.

The risk to district staff and swimmers who already suffer from asthma and allergies is reduced.

Health practitioners have indicated that there are health benefits for bathing in water with salt content.

Easier ability to have properly balanced water (i.e. pH, alkalinity, calcium concentration, total dissolved solids, and water temperature of a water). Water that falls on the Langelier Index close to zero, is just saturated with calcium carbonate and will neither be strongly corrosive or scale forming. If the system is properly balanced thereby not corrosive, corrosion would be indicative of some other issue (i.e. Improperly sealed concrete). Northern Health records indicate that there have been no problems with the balance of the water in our current system.

Research indicates that saline systems are cheaper to maintain throughout the year. At present the water and air quality are clear and clean in our facility. We are very fortunate to have such a high quality facility that enables the public to enjoy the safest and healthiest environment when either using the facility or working within it. The cost of maintenance, upgrades and repairs should not be an issue when considering the health of our community.

“Any system will have costs associated with proper maintenance,” says Hayden. “When Council makes their decision regarding the proposed changes to the pool the health of your patrons and staff should be the main consideration.”

The question is asked when the system was last overhauled? Hayden says as far as she knows, it was done about eight years ago, back when she was there, and it cost about $7000.

Councillor Howe says it sounds like we’re going backwards if the District goes to a chlorine system. “We’re going to weigh out the costs,” he says, “but in my mind there’s little chance of going back to chlorine. We’ve also talked about setting a fund aside in case there needs to be major repairs to the pool.”