"chemical free pool" claim

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Henry_R
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My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

"chemical free pool" claim

Postby Henry_R » Mon 05 Jul, 2010 12:41

Anyone here care to give an opinion on the claims on this website?

http://www.chemicalfreepoolstore.com/chemicalfree.html

This is the company who is maintaining our HOA pool and he's trying to talk our HOA board into buying
into this system. The owner is appearently going to give some presentation to the Texas DEpt.of Health so
it must have some merit but how about the claim of "chemical free pool"? You still have to use chlorine or some other oxidizer so it's not chemical free right?


Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
chem geek
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"chemical free pool" claim

Postby chem geek » Mon 05 Jul, 2010 15:29

This is a copper ion system and like all metal ion systems they cannot be used in any commercial or public pool in the U.S. without an EPA-approved sanitizer -- specifically chlorine, bromine or Baquacil/biguanide/PHMB. The reason is that these systems do not have any fast-acting disinfectant in the bulk pool water.
There are only two NSF Certified Standard 50 Copper/Silver Ion Generator manufacturers as listed here and you will notice that ALL of these products require chlorine, a minimum of 0.4 ppm (or bromine at 0.8 ppm). This is because any swimming pool chemical or system designated as a "disinfectant" or "sanitizer" must pass EPA DIS/TSS-12 and metal ions alone are unable to pass this test because they kill bacteria and other pathogens too slowly.

(I am splitting this into two posts since it exceeds the maximum 5 URL per post limit)
chem geek
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"chemical free pool" claim

Postby chem geek » Mon 05 Jul, 2010 15:31

(continued from previous post)

Metal ions (i.e. copper and silver) do not kill pathogens quickly enough to be used (by themselves) in commercial/public pools since they may not be able to prevent person-to-person transmission. When the Free Chlorine (FC) is around 10% of the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level, most common heterotrophic bacteria are killed by chlorine in under one minute (for a 99% kill). It takes silver ion around 10-20 minutes and copper ion around 40 minutes for an equivalent kill rate. Also, metal ions are not effective (at pool concentrations) at inactivating viruses. For example, this paper shows that copper ions do a 90% inactivation of Herpes Simplex Virus in 30 minutes at 100-200 ppm, but that is far, far higher in concentration than found in pools (copper is usually < 0.3 ppm in pools). This paper shows that silver ions have virtually no effect on vacciniavirus, adenovirus, VSV, poliovirus, HVJ, but that with herpes simplex virus there is a 5-log kill in 60 minutes (roughly a 90% kill in about 5 minutes), but at over 3200 ppb compared to the usual limit of 20 ppb to prevent silver staining.

On the other hand, there are no regulations for what a pool homeowner has to use in their residential pool. You can soak in raw sewage as far as the government is concerned. The only regulations for what must be done for sanitation in pools is for commercial/public pools regulated by state and local governments and they ALL require the EPA disinfectants for pools that pass EPA DIS/TSS-12. Note that there are labeling and instructions regulations (known as FIFRA) for any EPA registered pesticides and this includes copper and silver metal ions, but such systems can only claim to be an algaecide and cannot make any claims to be a disinfectant or sanitizer or to kill bacteria quickly, etc. Technically speaking, the statement on the website "Copper ions simply replace the need for chlorine disinfectants and are more effective at controlling algae and bacteria." is not only untrue, but is in violation of FIFRA rules for product claims, but since it's not on an actual product label nor in product instructions this is in the gray area skirting such rules (i.e. it's just on an informational website promoting a product).

You are right that if their system does not include something like an ozonator, then you would also need to add a chemical oxidizer to the pool to oxidize bather waste; otherwise, you will be swimming in the urea and ammonia from your sweat and urine. Metal ions are not oxidizers. They are simply supplemental systems with the serious downside of causing metal staining, especially on plaster surfaces, if the metal ion concentration gets too high or the pH gets too high.

Is there any particular reason why you aren't considering using chlorine properly managed in the pool? You do need to make sure you don't use only stabilized chlorine without doing something to manage the Cyanuric Acid (CYA aka stabilizer or conditioner) level. The following are chemical rules of fact that are independent of concentration of product or of pool size:

For every 10 ppm Free Chlorine (FC) added by Trichlor, it also increases Cyanuric Acid (CYA) by 6 ppm.
For every 10 ppm FC added by Dichlor, it also increases CYA by 9 ppm.
For every 10 ppm FC added by Cal-Hypo, it also increases Calcium Hardness (CH) by at least 7 ppm.

You can learn more about managing your pool by reading the Pool School and should probably consider getting a saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) system or an automatic chlorine dosing system such as a peristaltic pump or The Liquidator, though that requires purchasing and carrying chlorine to refill. An SWG is the most convenient, but has higher up-front capital costs.

Richard
chem geek
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"chemical free pool" claim

Postby chem geek » Mon 05 Jul, 2010 16:09

The Texas Administrative Code Title 25 "Health Services" Part 1 "Department of State Health Services" Chapter 265 "General Sanitation" Subchapter L "Standards for Public Pools and Spas" has specific requirements for disinfectants. Chlorine and bromine are explicitly listed though it does say "or other method of disinfectant approved by the department" though paragraph (11) states "if ancillary non-chlorine or non-bromine disinfectants are used, they shall be used in addition to chlorine or bromine or other approved equivalent, see §265.204(a) of this title" where that section has this graphic listing explicit water chemistry requirements including levels of chlorine or bromine.

There is this section where paragraph (l) states, "Use of registered products at post-10/01/99 and pre-10/01/99 pools and spas. In post-10/01/99 and pre-10/01/99 pools and spas, only chemicals registered and labeled for use in pools and spas by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shall be used." Copper ions are registered as algaecides, not as sanitizer/disinfectants, for use in pools.

(to be continued...hit 5 link limit again)
chem geek
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"chemical free pool" claim

Postby chem geek » Mon 05 Jul, 2010 16:14

If you search the PAN Database for pesticides, you will not find any listing under the company name "Intec" or "Intec-America" nor under "Texas Pool Techs" so you cannot look up the specific EPA registration for their product. See if you can get an EPA registration number from them and then look it up in the EPA's PPLS system. It will likely have wording about use as an algaecide, but will make not claims of sanitation/disinfection or of killing bacteria, etc. at least for use in pools (killing bacteria more slowly for drinking water to inhibit bacteria growth in hospitals is different since there is much more time available to do the killing).

The reason that commercial/public pool requirements are so strict is that one person with an illness can infect dozens to hundreds (or in larger pools even thousands) of people so having a fast-acting disinfectant becomes far more important. If one were only concerned with uncontrolled bacterial growth, then metal ions would be sufficient (especially silver ion), but the prevention of person-to-person transmission is the main reason that chlorine is used in most pools. Chlorine is also an oxidizer so also handles getting rid of bather waste.
Henry_R
Swimming Pool Pro
Swimming Pool Pro
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 21:41
My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

"chemical free pool" claim

Postby Henry_R » Tue 06 Jul, 2010 02:59

First, I need to clear up that though this is an HOA pool which is "class C" under state rules, it is considered a private pool under our local city codes since our HOA is only 30 units and we are not even subject to city inspection except for an actual violation (green pool, gate not latched, etc...). In the past we had a permit, but we recently argued our case with the Houston health-saftey(pool) dept. that we fall within the private pool catagory and the city agreed. They won't even issue us a permit anymore if we want to have one since they only issue them for commercial pools. That being the case as long as we're sanitizing the pool correctly we can do whatever we wish.

Thank you for your reply(ies). I will have to read through your posts a bit later; it's 3am...

To answer the question I mananged to scan: we currently are using regular cal-hypo 73% powder and trichlor pucks and this company is pushing us to install their system. The man whom I think is the owner is pushing this system as superior to chlorine and he's appearently giving some kind of study to the texas dept of health on the merits of the system. Maybe he's looking to get approval to use it more widely or something. Currently our HOA really can't afford the price of installation, but I'm skeptical of the claims which is why I asked here.
Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
chem geek
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"chemical free pool" claim

Postby chem geek » Tue 06 Jul, 2010 13:37

One of the claims by Intec-America is that "National laboratory studies and research by the University of South Alabama, to determine the effectiveness of ionization to kill bacteria shows: Ionization is Faster Acting and Longer Lasting than Chlorine", but I can find no such studies/research. You should get a link from him to the journal that has published such a study so I (and others) can look at it. It would be inconsistent with every other study on metal ions that show that they do not kill bacteria quickly and are mostly ineffective against viruses except at high concentrations. As I had written before, they still generally kill bacteria faster than they can reproduce so are useful to prevent uncontrolled bacteria growth, but do not kill fast enough to prevent person-to-person transmission of disease and most certainly do not kill faster than chlorine in most cases.

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