Hydrogen Peroxide

 - a safe, inexpensive, effective sanitation chemical for pools

The chemicals you use keep your pool clean could be poisoning you. Chlorine and the less-used Bromine are both toxic and we really shouldn't be exposed to them, no matter how low the concentration, if we can avoid it.

Recommended Chlorine levels for pools are 1-3 ppm but I have tested the water at thousands of private pools and very often I have found it to be at a much higher level; even (once only) at 150 ppm!

(The owner had added 'plenty of extra Chlorine' because 'the grandchildren were due to visit' and they 'always urinate in the pool'. Bless him; he was doing what he thought was correct - but might have seriously burned his grandchildren.)

A few things to consider when discussing 'exposure' to Chlorine in pools: -

  • An individual's exposure depends on the amount of time that he or she spends in the water, and whether they shower-off when leaving the pool.
  • Kids will spend 10 hours a day in the pool, or even more, if they get the chance.
  • Kids have a much higher skin-area-to-body-weight ratio than adults.
  • Kids therefore are more vulnerable to Chlorine in pools - and let's remember that Chlorine is toxic.

Chlorine usage in pools - the downside

The recommended Chlorine level of up to 3 parts-per-million (ppm) in a typical pool is 10 times the level the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers to be safe. Chlorine and/or Bromine, when used to sanitize a pool, can produce cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) e.g. chloroforms, bromoforms, carbon tetrachloride and dichloroethane.

Contact with Chlorine can cause premature aging of skin and has been identified as a cause of eczema, psoriasis, melanoma, acne and seborrhea  - (but please read the '*Interesting Note' below). Inhalation of Chlorine dust or vapour can damage the lungs. Chlorine can cause serious eye damage and even blindness.

Bromine also has drawbacks when used for pool sanitation, even though it's sometimes perceived as a safe alternative to Chlorine. If Bromine contacts the skin it cause very painful, open sores. Exposure to Bromine can also cause cancer, damage to liver, brain and nervous system, infertility (in males) and other unwelcome symptoms.

There are several alternatives to Chlorine/Bromine and use of Hydrogen Peroxide is a method that is gaining popularity for several reasons. The biggest 'plus' in dumping Chlorine and replacing it with Hydrogen Peroxide is a healthy environment in your pool. The low cost of Hydrogen Peroxide is another valid reason why people are switching away from traditional sanitizers.

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Basically, it's a water molecule (H²O) with an extra Oxygen atom. This extra Oxygen atom gives Hydrogen Peroxide a chemical formula of H²O². It's used at a 3% concentration in hospitals, food preparation areas and many other places for effective sterilization. H²O² is also used to clean infected wounds. Hydrogen Peroxide promotes a healthy pool environment and  H²O² sanitation systems are used by medical centers and hospitals, all over the world, to treat the water in therapy pools and spas.

H²O² is naturally produced in the atmosphere when sunlight, or, especially, lightning interacts with Oxygen in the presence of water vapour. In nature H²O² acts as a cleanser and sanitizer. During a thunderstorm, for example, huge amounts of pure H²O² are produced. This naturally occurring sanitizer kills off many types of airborne bacteria and fungi which could otherwise grow unchecked. Have you noticed how 'fresh' the air smells after a thunderstorm? H²O² is also found in honey - a well known from ancient times as an antiseptic.

Many natural 'healing springs' have been found to have higher than normal concentrations of H²O²; up to 0.25% in some cases.

Hydrogen Peroxide use in the pool

Water and Oxygen, the two items most necessary to human life, are what make up H²O² and using it to sanitize a pool creates no problems for us fragile humans. The pool-chemical industry would prefer to keep you in the dark about Hydrogen Peroxide because they can't make much profit out of it!

H²O² treatment for your pool water is a healthy, inexpensive and effective alternative to Chlorine. H²O² produces pure pool water that is totally safe and, unlike Chlorine, will not harm any pool-side plants if they are splashed with water, it won't cause 'red-eye' or leave toxic chemical residues in the pool. H²O² should be used in conjunction with a UV Ionizer for 100% effective sanitation

H²O² - Dosage rate: -

If starting with the fresh water of a newly-filled pool add 6.5 litres of 35% H²O² for every 50m³ of water (1.5 gals per 10,000 gals of water), applied at sunset. Run the pump for a couple of hours and then turn it off and leave it off for 24 hours, before turning the pump/timer back on. Do not use the pool during this initial 24 hour period.

Hydrogen Peroxide for pool-use is at 35% concentration but this gradually declines over time so don't buy more than you can use in one season. If your pool is already chlorinated there is no need to remove the Chlorine before adding H²O² - residual Chlorine levels will naturally drop to zero in a very short time - just increase the initial dose by 50%. H²O² will not adversely interact with other pool chemicals.

Maintaining Hydrogen Peroxide levels: -

H²O² concentration in the pool decreases over time due to interaction with organic pollutants and its breakdown by UV light. Therefore you need to add Hydrogen Peroxide periodically to maintain a sufficient concentration. Checking is simple with the use of Hydrogen Peroxide Test Strips.  Look for a concentration of between 30 and 70 ppm with a maximum of 1,000 ppm to remove very high levels of organic contamination if, for example, there has been faecal contamination of the pool. 

Check H²O² level frequently with test strips until you are familiar with how much to add and when to add it. Even at 1,000 ppm the concentration is far less than anything that could harm a human. That's another big advantage of H²O² - you cannot overdose with it! Remember to write everything down in your Pool Logbook.

Warning: - H²O² cannot be used with a DE filter as it dissolves the DE powder.

H²O² also degrades natural rubber (but modern pool equipment uses only synthetic rubber components so no damage will occur to 'O'-rings, etc.)

First Aid treatment: -

  • Inhalation: remove the patient to fresh air but if respiration becomes difficult, or discomfort occurs, call a doctor.
  • Eye contact: Immediately flush with copious amounts of fresh water for 15 minutes and consult a doctor.
  • Skin contact: irrigate with copious amounts of water and, if irritation occurs, see a doctor.
  • Ingestion: give the patient plenty of water to drink to dilute the Hydrogen peroxide in the stomach before consulting a doctor. Do not induce vomiting.

Handling and Storage: -

  • Like all pool chemicals, Hydrogen Peroxide must be treated with respect.
  • H²O², in the 35% concentration we are discussing here, is a powerful oxidizer that can burn the skin on contact.
  • Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using H²O².
  • Store it in a cool, dry place, well out of reach of kids and animals.
  • Do not re-package H²O² into unmarked containers.

Interesting Note - Hydrogen Peroxide TherapyHydrogen Peroxide Therapy actually CURES all of these complaints - including canceincluding cancer


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Ken Walker - MyPoolGuru©