The Side Effects of Bromine in Swimming Pools

Written by tony guerra Google
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The Side Effects of Bromine in Swimming Pools
Bromine as a swimming pool disinfectant is a good alternative to chlorine, though there are a few issues when using it in a pool. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Most swimming pool owners use one of two chemical disinfectants in their pools: chlorine or bromine. Chlorine, by far, is the most common, though bromine is a perfectly fine alternative. Bromine will last longer than chlorine in a swimming pool, for one. Plus, bromine in a pool is easier, in general, on swimmers' skin. However, there are a few side effects of bromine in swimming pools, including the difficulties involved in switching from bromine to chlorine disinfection.

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Bromine Exclusivity

If you're currently using bromine in your pool, it can be difficult to switch to chlorine if you need to. Typically, a brominated swimming pool will have to be drained and refilled in order to use chlorine. Chlorine will react with even low levels of bromine in a pool and convert itself to an inactive or "used up" state.

Bromine Issues

Bromine as a water disinfectant is most often seen in indoor pools and spas, because it's highly sensitive to sunlight. Chlorine is also sensitive to sunlight falling on a pool, but it can be protected by a stabiliser like cyanuric acid. Bromine in a swimming pool can also leave a medicinal taste to the water that some swimmers find unpleasant. Also, bromine can be a bit harder to wash off skin after swimming.

Bromine Cost

Bromine swimming pool disinfectant is more expensive than similar amounts of chlorine. The cost of bromine is a major reason for why it's not often used in private swimming pools or spas, though it's a favourite in indoor public pools. And even though bromine may last longer than chlorine in a pool, the expense of maintaining it can make it cost-prohibitive for many small pool owners. Higher levels of bromine are needed in a pool than those for chlorine.

Other Considerations

Bromine needs to be maintained in a swimming pool at between 2 and 4 parts per million (ppm). Bromine is also a close cousin to chlorine, so pool swimmers with sensitivities to chlorine stand a good chance of also being sensitive to bromine. Bromine also dissolves very slowly, so it can only be added to a swimming pool through a dispenser or feeder. And like chlorine, bromine is classified as a hazardous chemical and should be handled with care at all times.

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