Many homeowners are beginning to turn to natural swimming pools due to the harmful health effects of traditional swimming pools. Chlorine and other chemicals used to keep pools clean have many health risks to the human body. Too much exposure to pool chemicals can potentially increase the average swimmer’s risk of developing a range of ailments from cancer to asthma and other respiratory issues.
The chemicals can also cause milder issues such as allergic reactions, red eyes, and dry skin after even just a short time in the pool. Overall, the chemicals used in swimming pools are not great for the human body, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that having a traditional, chemically treated swimming pool in your backyard is also taxing on the environment. Here are the main culprits:
The pumps used to circulate water in treated pools, keeping them clean and free of algae, are major energy consumers. The Energy Information Agency estimated that .9% of all the residential energy used in the United States comes from swimming pools. Pool pumps can consume 3,000 to over 5,000 kWh per year. By comparison, the pumps used to circulate water in a natural swimming pool typically require less electricity to operate than a chemically treated pool, so by transitioning to a natural pool, the water feature can stay clean and clear while consuming far less energy and avoiding harsh chemicals leaking into the environment.
Swimming pools waste a significant amount of water every year, mainly due to water evaporation and leaks. Because chemically-treated pools are typically used during the hot seasons, water evaporation rates in pools are high. Most pool owners do not cover their pools during the seasons they are using them. This means they are constantly adding more water to their pool in order to replace the evaporated water.
While some evaporated water is expected with a chemically treated pool and with natural pools, the evaporated treated pool is releasing more chemicals into the air surrounding the pool. Also, it is estimated that 1 in every 5 swimming pools has a leak and 1 in every 20 pools has a severe leak. Chemically-treated pools are leaking chlorine and bromine into the earth below.
Swimming pool chemicals, such as chlorine, have a negative impact on the environment. The evaporated pool chemicals contribute to the production of greenhouse gases. Also, the draining and discharging of chemically treated water can cause problems to waterways if not done correctly. The chemicals involved in maintaining a treated pool are harmful to a variety of living creatures and can affect the immune system, blood, heart, and respiratory system of animals and pets if exposed repeatedly.
According to the National Swimming Pool Foundation, there are over 10.4 million residential swimming pools in the United States, and we can assume a large majority of these are traditional, chemically treated pools. If every pool owner made steps to make their swimming pool more eco-friendly, the environmental effects of swimming pools would be massively reduced. If you are one of those pool owners, there are several ways to green your pool, such as installing energy-efficient pumps, covering your pool with a pool blanket to reduce chemical and water evaporation, and converting your chemically treated swimming pool into a natural swimming pool.