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Chlorinated pools were first used to sterilise pools in the United States in 1910. Since then, it has spread across the world and is now used in almost every pool on the planet. Chlorine is the chemical most often used to keep swimming pools and Jacuzzis free of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans. This bacteria along with algae thrive in pools that aren’t chlorinated which is why chlorine is and has been used since it’s disinfectant properties were discovered.

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Chlorine is is very effective for the elimination of pathogenic microorganisms. It is commercially available as Chlorine gas (Cl2) or Sodium hypochlorite in liquid or powder form (NaOCl). Both of these have very limited disinfectant properties but can react with water to form by-products such as Hypochlorite ion (OCl-) and Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) both of which can eliminate pathogens. The chemical equation for the above reaction is as follows – NaOCl + H2O -> HOCL + OCl-. Hyphochlorous acid is the most effective sterilising agent as it has a neutral charge and is produced in large amounts. The cell walls of pathogenic microorganisms are negatively charged by nature. This means that the negatively charged Hypochlorite ion will repel against the charge of the cell wall. Since Hypochlorous acid is neutrally charged, it is able to penetrate the cell wall of the pathogen easily making it an extremely effective disinfectant. Hypochlorous acid is able to penetrate slime layers and protective layers and destroy the enzymes and structures inside the cell, making the microorganism oxidised and harmless. The pathogens die immediately or will suffer from reproductive failure. Besides the neutrality of hypochlorous acid (HOCL), it is also a much more reactive disinfectant than hypochlorite ion (OCL-), because hypochlorous acid (HOCL) is split into hydrochloric acid (HCl) and oxygen atoms which by itself is a powerful disinfectant.  

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The use of chlorine in pools has been controversial since it was first used to sterilise pools. There are many positives and negatives to the use of chlorinated pools. Chlorine is a good option to disinfect pools because it is widely used and easily available for purchase. Additionally, Chlorine can be used in any state, liquid, solid, or gas. This makes chlorine very versatile in terms of availability, chlorine is much easier to find and use than other forms of sterilisation like Bromine or UV filtration. Another strength of Chlorine is that it can be stored for very long periods of time. Chlorine does however, have negatives to its use. Firstly, chlorine creates chloramines and trihalomethane (THM’s), which cause serious irritation to the eyes, throat, skin and lungs of mammals. One by product of disinfection, Chloroform is a known animal carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer in the tissue of our bodies. Another limitation of chlorine is that it can kill almost all pathogens and parasites but cannot kill cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal illness


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