The Benefits and Drawbacks of Chlorine (Cl) in British Swimming Pools

Chlorine has been used as a disinfectant in swimming pools for many years. Its use can be traced back to the early 20th century when it was discovered that chlorine effectively killed bacteria and viruses in water. Since then, chlorine has become the most widely used method for maintaining clean and safe swimming pool water.

The importance of maintaining clean and safe swimming pool water cannot be overstated. Without proper disinfection, swimming pools can become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and viruses. These microorganisms can cause a range of illnesses, from mild skin infections to more serious respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Therefore, it is crucial to use an effective disinfectant like chlorine to ensure the health and safety of swimmers.


  • Chlorine is commonly used in British swimming pools to maintain water quality and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Advantages of using chlorine include its effectiveness in killing bacteria and viruses, affordability, and ease of use.
  • Disadvantages of using chlorine include its potential to cause skin and eye irritation, unpleasant odours, and the formation of harmful byproducts.
  • Chlorine can impact water quality by creating a chemical imbalance and causing cloudiness or discolouration.
  • Exposure to chlorine can have negative effects on swimmer health, including respiratory issues and skin irritation.

The Advantages of Using Chlorine in Swimming Pools

One of the main advantages of using chlorine in swimming pools is its effectiveness in killing bacteria and viruses. Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant that can quickly eliminate harmful microorganisms, making the water safe for swimmers. It is also effective in preventing the growth of algae and other organic matter that can make the water cloudy and unappealing.

Another advantage of using chlorine is its cost-effectiveness compared to other treatment methods. Chlorine is readily available and relatively inexpensive, making it a popular choice for pool owners and operators. Other treatment methods, such as UV light or ozone, may require significant upfront costs and ongoing maintenance expenses.

Furthermore, chlorine is easy to use and readily accessible. It can be added to the pool water in various forms, including liquid, granules, or tablets. This versatility allows pool operators to choose the most convenient method for their specific needs. Additionally, chlorine is widely available at pool supply stores, making it easily accessible for both residential and commercial pool owners.

The Disadvantages of Using Chlorine in Swimming Pools

While chlorine has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages that should be considered. One of the main drawbacks of chlorine is its potential to cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can lead to dry and itchy skin, red and irritated eyes, and respiratory issues such as coughing and wheezing. This can be particularly problematic for individuals with sensitive skin or pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Another disadvantage of chlorine is its harsh chemical smell. Chlorine has a distinct odor that can be off-putting for some swimmers. The smell can linger on the skin and hair even after leaving the pool, which can be unpleasant for those who are sensitive to the scent.

Additionally, chlorine has the potential to form harmful byproducts when it reacts with organic matter in the water. One example is chloramines, which are formed when chlorine combines with sweat, urine, and other bodily fluids. Chloramines can cause eye and skin irritation and have been linked to respiratory issues in some individuals. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper chlorine levels and regularly shock the pool to prevent the buildup of chloramines.

The Impact of Chlorine on Swimming Pool Water Quality

Chlorine Level Water Quality Impact
0.0 – 0.5 ppm Low Bacteria and algae growth
0.5 – 1.0 ppm Good Minimal bacteria and algae growth
1.0 – 3.0 ppm Optimal Effective disinfection
3.0 – 5.0 ppm High Potential skin and eye irritation
Above 5.0 ppm Very high Strong chlorine smell, potential respiratory irritation

Maintaining proper chlorine levels is crucial for optimal water quality in swimming pools. The recommended chlorine level for most pools is between 1-3 parts per million (ppm). This level ensures effective disinfection while minimizing the risk of irritation to swimmers.

Several factors can affect the effectiveness of chlorine in swimming pool water. pH levels play a significant role in chlorine’s ability to kill bacteria and viruses. The ideal pH range for chlorine disinfection is between 7.2-7.8. If the pH is too high or too low, chlorine becomes less effective, and bacteria may not be adequately killed.

Regular water testing is essential to ensure that chlorine levels and pH are within the recommended ranges. Pool operators should test the water at least once a day and adjust the chlorine and pH levels accordingly. This will help maintain optimal water quality and ensure the safety of swimmers.

The Effect of Chlorine on Swimmer Health

While chlorine is effective in killing bacteria and viruses, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with exposure to chlorine. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as respiratory issues. Swimmers with sensitive skin or pre-existing respiratory conditions may be more susceptible to these effects.

To minimize the risks associated with chlorine exposure, swimmers can take certain precautions. Showering before entering the pool can help remove any oils, sweat, or cosmetics that can react with chlorine and form chloramines. Wearing goggles can protect the eyes from irritation, and using moisturizers or lotions after swimming can help hydrate the skin and reduce dryness.

It is worth noting that swimming in properly treated water can also have health benefits. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility. It can also help reduce stress and promote mental well-being. Therefore, the benefits of swimming in properly treated water may outweigh the potential risks associated with chlorine exposure.

The Cost of Chlorine Treatment in Swimming Pools

The cost of chlorine treatment in swimming pools can vary depending on several factors. The size of the pool, frequency of use, and local water conditions can all affect the amount of chlorine needed for proper disinfection.

In general, chlorine is a relatively inexpensive treatment method compared to alternatives such as UV light or ozone. The upfront costs for UV or ozone systems can be significantly higher than purchasing chlorine, and ongoing maintenance expenses may also be higher.

To reduce chlorine usage and cost, pool operators can implement certain strategies. These include maintaining proper water balance to ensure optimal chlorine effectiveness, regularly cleaning and backwashing filters to remove debris and organic matter, and using a pool cover to reduce evaporation and the need for additional chlorine.

Alternative Methods for Treating Swimming Pool Water

While chlorine is the most commonly used method for treating swimming pool water, there are alternative treatment methods available. These include UV light, ozone, and saltwater systems.

UV light treatment uses ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria and viruses in the water. It is a chemical-free method that does not produce harmful byproducts. However, UV systems can be expensive to install and require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance.

Ozone treatment involves the use of ozone gas to disinfect the water. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer that can effectively kill bacteria and viruses. However, ozone systems can also be costly to install and maintain.

Saltwater systems use a salt cell to convert salt into chlorine through a process called electrolysis. This eliminates the need for adding chlorine directly to the water. Saltwater systems are popular for their ease of use and reduced chlorine smell. However, they can be more expensive upfront, and the saltwater can be corrosive to certain pool materials.

When choosing an alternative treatment method, pool operators should consider factors such as cost, effectiveness, maintenance requirements, and compatibility with their specific pool setup.

Chlorine Safety and Handling in Swimming Pools

Proper safety and handling of chlorine are essential to ensure the well-being of pool staff and swimmers. Chlorine should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and other chemicals. It should be kept in its original container with a tightly sealed lid to prevent leaks or spills.

When handling chlorine, it is important to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and goggles, to protect against skin and eye irritation. Chlorine should never be mixed with other chemicals, as this can result in dangerous reactions.

In case of chlorine exposure or a chlorine-related emergency, pool staff should be trained on proper emergency procedures. This includes evacuating the pool area, providing first aid if necessary, and contacting emergency services if needed.

The Environmental Impact of Chlorine in Swimming Pools

Chlorine can have negative effects on the environment if not used and disposed of responsibly. Chlorine can react with organic matter in the water to form chlorinated organic compounds, some of which can be harmful to aquatic life.

To minimize the environmental impact of chlorine, pool operators can take certain measures. These include reducing chlorine usage by maintaining proper water balance and regularly cleaning and backwashing filters to remove debris and organic matter. Additionally, chlorine should be properly disposed of according to local regulations to prevent contamination of water sources.

Is Chlorine the Best Option for British Swimming Pools?

In conclusion, chlorine has been the go-to method for treating swimming pool water for many years due to its effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and easy availability. However, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of chlorine treatment before making a decision.

While chlorine is effective in killing bacteria and viruses, it can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. It also has a distinct smell that some swimmers may find unpleasant. Additionally, chlorine has the potential to form harmful byproducts if not properly managed.

When choosing the best treatment method for a specific pool, pool operators should consider factors such as cost, effectiveness, maintenance requirements, and potential health risks. Alternative treatment methods such as UV light, ozone, and saltwater systems may offer viable options for those looking to reduce chlorine usage or address specific concerns.

Ultimately, the use of chlorine in British swimming pools should be approached with caution and responsibility. Proper handling, regular water testing, and responsible disposal are essential to ensure the health and safety of swimmers and minimize the environmental impact.


What is Chlorine?

Chlorine is a chemical element with the symbol Cl and atomic number 17. It is a yellow-green gas at room temperature and is highly reactive.

What are the uses of Chlorine?

Chlorine is widely used in the production of various chemicals, including solvents, pesticides, and plastics. It is also used to disinfect water and swimming pools, as well as in the production of paper and textiles.

Is Chlorine dangerous?

Chlorine can be dangerous if not handled properly. It is a toxic gas that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Exposure to high levels of chlorine can be fatal.

How is Chlorine produced?

Chlorine is produced through the electrolysis of brine (saltwater). The process involves passing an electric current through a solution of saltwater, which separates the sodium and chlorine ions.

What are the properties of Chlorine?

Chlorine is a highly reactive gas that is yellow-green in color. It has a pungent odor and is toxic in high concentrations. Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent and can react with many other elements and compounds.

What are the health effects of Chlorine?

Exposure to high levels of chlorine can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and eye irritation. Long-term exposure to low levels of chlorine can also cause health problems, including respiratory issues and damage to the central nervous system.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top