By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
If your swimming pool chemicals make your eyes burn, turn your hair green or stretch out your swimsuits, Larry Waterman says he has a solution.
In short, it’s saline solution.
The northwest Bradenton resident has found a calling that suits his name as a distributor for the Atlantis saltwater pool sanitation system.
Waterman learned about the technology when he began to teach his son, Sam, to swim earlier this year and found the chemicals in the family pool irritated his eyes. He researched systems on the Internet and found the saltwater system, but had trouble finding it in area stores.
"It’s an untapped market," says Waterman, who became a distributor this month.
The system is economical, healthy and eco-friendly, he says. The salt needs replacing only as the water in the pool evaporates, about 20 pounds a year for an average pool, plus acid to stabilize it. Customers save money on replacing swimsuits, as the salt doesn’t ruin elastic fibers. Salt won’t bleach hair or irritate eyes and actually softens skin, he says, adding that using fewer chemicals is also better for the environment.
There’s no scientific data about health claims, but salt sanitation is adequate to keep private pools clean, says Michael Beach, who heads the healthy swimming program at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Public pools are a different matter.
"It’s an electrolytic process, which is a fairly slow process. It can keep chlorine levels stable in a private pool and the disinfecting properties are about the same," Beach says. "But in a public setting, we would want to ensure the units are producing chlorine in enough quantity, and they probably won’t do that."
According to Atlantis, the system works by dissolving a small amount of salt into the pool water, which will have half as much salinity as a teardrop - that’s .5 percent salt, compared to sea water, which has a salinity concentration of 3.75 percent.
"It barely tastes like salt water," Waterman says. "You could actually consume it."
The water is sanitized through the process of electrolysis, according to the company. An electrolytic cell is plumbed into the pool equipment and is activated by the pump. As the water flows through the cell, electrolysis separates the salt water into its basic components, sodium and chloride. Chlorine gas produced by the process oxidizes bacteria, sanitizing the pool water, after which the chloride and sodium re-bond and become salt again. Maintenance consists of dipping the cell in a solution that removes calcium deposits.
The low levels of salt have relatively insignificant effects on corrosion of metal in the pool, according to the company, and eliminate periods of high or low chlorine levels.
"I’ve had it in my pool for two months now," Waterman says. "It used to be such a pain to keep the levels right, but I haven’t had to do anything for two months."
Salt is not the only alternative to conventional pool sanitation. The World Health Organization says that while chlorination is the most widely used pool water disinfection method in the forms of chlorine gas, hypochlorite salt (sodium, calcium, lithium) or chlorinated isocyanurates, other disinfectants include bromine, ozone, ultraviolet radiation and algaecides.
For more information on the Atlantis system, call Waterman at 807-5686.