PoolSan guidelines

It has been an area of debate for some time – what is the best and most reliable way of ensuring safe water for bathers?

The chlorine retailers and manufacturers insist there is no evidence that anything other than chlorine will provide protection. Meanwhile, all around them commercial pools turn their backs on chlorine, preferring PoolSan, a tried and tested, environmentally friendly alternative that is safer for staff and bathers alike.

The health issues surrounding chlorine continue to cause concern. We have seen enquiries about PoolSan steadily rise as yet another study is published showing the link between chlorine and asthma – more in a long line of research demonstrating the health risks of chlorinated leisure water, particularly to young children.

The danger of chlorine is well known and mixes of chemicals occur all too often. The Heath Protection Agency in London have recently published a study describing the distribution, characteristics and public health consequences of all acute chemical incidents associated with swimming pools in England and Wales over a 5-month period in 2007.

COSHH guidelines state that wherever possible, a site should eliminate the use of any hazardous substance where an alternative, less hazardous substance can be substituted. Coverage of the negative side of chlorine is growing, as is each business’s need to reduce its hazardous chemical usage. PoolSan is the viable and practical alternative to chlorine in pools and spas – something to bear in mind when COSHH and risk assessments are being completed.

Regime change is a large step for any organisation to undertake and it needs to be handled correctly. The City of Westminster has been home to PoolSan chlorine-free spas and pools for the last 18 months and the Environmental Health Enforcement Officers there have been involved in the conversion and monitoring of several sites. They are satisfied that PoolSan offers a protection to bathers equal to that previously offered by chlorine whilst meeting COSHH requirements. City of Westminster officials, like other councils, remind organisations of the spirit of the COSHH guidelines, that hazardous chemicals should be replaced by less dangerous ones if it is reasonably practical to do so. As in all businesses, swimming pool operators are required to be looking at alternatives. PoolSan is arguably safer than chlorine and other dangerous chemicals and it provides a level of protection against bacteria that is equal to that offered by chlorine as the results of testing carried out by City of Westminster and others bear out.

It is crucial when any change of regime is implemented that risk assessments are carried out and a full testing regime is implemented to ensure staff have got to grips with the different system. Clearly any treatment for a swimming pool or spa is dependent on the quality and properties of the product and the effective use and management of that treatment regime. To ensure this, City of Westminster officials have helped draw up a set of guidelines for public and private sector pools to follow when they convert from chlorine.

When converting from chlorine to PoolSan

  1. The maintenance staff should carry out a full pre-install check on plant. If filter sand needs changing or balance tanks are due to be cleaned, this should be carried out prior to conversion. Technicians from PoolSan can arrange for work to be done but all sites should have the resources to carry out regular checks and maintenance
  2. Water should be balanced prior to conversion. This is basic pool management – PoolSan, like chlorine, works most effectively and efficiently when TA, TDS, pH and CH are all within acceptable ranges.
  3. Risk assessments should be updated to reflect the new system. PoolSan is safer to handle and store than chlorine but a risk assessment for the changeover and its ongoing use by staff still needs to be completed
  4. COSHH sheets should also be updated to reflect that a less dangerous chemical is being used
  5. Pre-conversion bacteriological tests of chlorinated water should be checked – any regular or low level failures could indicate an underlying problem on site
  6. It is essential that managers have a system for acting on the results of monitoring - this means comparing the manual results with the equipment readings and ensuring a procedure is in place to act on results and that a log is kept of action. It is recommended that manual water tests are carried out every three to four hours during all the open hours of a busy pool (three times a day for a quieter one) and that the management analyse data and test systems regularly, ensuring that operators have taken the appropriate action when required. These procedures should be in place for your existing sanitation system but we can help you adapt your log sheets/cleaning schedules/testing procedures if required.
  7. Full training of all site staff carrying out daily water tests and using plant equipment should be completed and signed off for each member of staff who completes the PoolSan training – PoolSan generally arrange training as part of the conversion although it is the site’s responsibility to make sure they keep adequate records of who has been trained
  8. Arrangements must be made to safely remove previously used chemicals, packaging and dosing tanks from site once they are no longer in use. These items may require specialist disposal – please refer to your supplier
  9. In order to establish that staff are managing the new regime correctly, a bacteriological testing process should be put in place to cover the six weeks after conversion. It is recommended that bacteriological tests be carried out twice weekly for the first fortnight after conversion and weekly for the next four weeks after that. Testing can generally return to monthly after this time if there are no issues. Spa testing should include legionella tests during the changeover period
  10. Bacteriological testing is carried out using sample bottles to the specification of those supplied by the HPA. Since the first UK trials of PoolSan in 2005 they have always specified that a different inhibitor (Sodium EDTA) is used in the sampling bottles (sodium thiosulphate, the chlorine inhibitor, does not affect PoolSan) and whoever carries out regular bacteriological tests must be aware of this. Sample bottles and further information are available from PoolSan Direct – for further information email us at: info@poolsandirect.co.uk

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