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  • Rob Furness

Ditch the Chlorine: How Enzymes are Revolutionising Pool Disinfection



For decades, chlorine has reigned supreme as the go-to disinfectant for swimming pools worldwide. Its effectiveness in killing harmful bacteria and algae, coupled with its relatively low cost, has made it a staple in the industry. However, as pool operators, swimmers, and pet owners have become more aware of the potential downsides of chlorine, the search for alternative disinfection methods has intensified.


One of the primary concerns with chlorine-based disinfection is the formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs). When chlorine interacts with organic matter in the pool water, such as sweat, oils, and urine, it can create a range of potentially harmful compounds, including trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids 2 3. These DBPs have been linked to various health issues, including respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even potential links to cancer 2 3. Moreover, the strong chlorine odour and the irritation it can cause to eyes and lungs have led many swimmers, especially those with sensitive skin or respiratory conditions, to seek out alternative pool experiences.


This challenge has become particularly acute for indoor pools in the UK, where poor air quality and high chloramine levels can be a significant issue 3. For pet owners, the harsh effects of chlorine on their furry friends' skin and eyes can also be a major concern, deterring them from allowing their beloved companions to enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool 3.


Enzymes: Nature's Cleaning Powerhouses

Enter enzyme-based pool disinfection, a revolutionary approach that is gaining traction around the world. Enzymes are natural, protein-based catalysts that can break down organic matter in the pool water, effectively removing the nutrients that bacteria and algae need to thrive 1 3. Unlike chlorine, which kills microorganisms indiscriminately, enzymes work in harmony with the natural microbial balance of the pool water. This means that the beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy pool environment are not wiped out, leading to a more sustainable and balanced ecosystem 1 3. The key to the success of enzyme-based disinfection lies in its ability to target the root cause of pool contamination - the organic matter that fuels the growth of harmful microbes. By breaking down these organic compounds, enzymes prevent the formation of the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and algae, effectively keeping the pool clean and clear without the need for harsh chemical disinfectants 1 3.


Unlocking the Benefits of Enzyme-Based Pool Disinfection



As the use of enzyme-based pool disinfection continues to grow, pool operators, swimmers, and pet owners are discovering a host of benefits that make it an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional chlorine-based systems. Let's explore some of the key advantages:


Reduced Exposure to Disinfection By-Products

One of the most significant benefits of enzyme-based disinfection is the reduction in the formation of harmful disinfection by-products. By breaking down organic matter without the use of chlorine, enzymes effectively eliminate the chemical reactions that lead to the creation of compounds like trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids 23. This not only improves water quality but also reduces the potential health risks associated with exposure to these substances.


Improved Air Quality


Another major advantage of enzyme-based disinfection is the enhancement of air quality, particularly in indoor pool environments. Chlorine-based systems can lead to the off-gassing of chloramines, which can irritate the eyes and lungs of swimmers and staff 3. Enzyme-based systems, on the other hand, do not produce these strong chlorine odours, creating a more pleasant and healthier environment for everyone in the pool area.


Gentle on Skin and Eyes


For many swimmers, the harsh effects of chlorine on their skin and eyes have been a long-standing issue. Enzyme-based disinfection offers a much gentler alternative, as the pool water is less likely to cause irritation, rashes, or other skin and eye-related problems 1 3. This makes it an especially attractive option for families, children, and individuals with sensitive skin or respiratory conditions.



Environmental Benefits


Enzyme-based pool disinfection systems also offer significant environmental benefits compared to traditional chlorine-based systems. They typically use less energy, produce less wastewater, and have a lower overall carbon footprint 1. This aligns with the growing global focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility, making enzyme-based systems an increasingly appealing choice for pool operators and communities.


Supports Natural Microbial Balance


Unlike chlorine, which indiscriminately kills all microorganisms in the pool water, enzymes work in harmony with the natural microbial balance. This means that the beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy pool environment are not wiped out, leading to a more sustainable and balanced ecosystem 1 3. This can have long-term benefits for the overall health and cleanliness of the pool.


Safer for Furry Friends



One of the standout benefits of enzyme-based pool disinfection is that it is generally safer for dogs and other pets to enjoy the pool water. Chlorine-based systems can be harsh on animal skin and eyes, and the strong chemical odour can be unpleasant or even irritating for our furry friends 3. In contrast, the gentler, more natural approach of enzyme-based disinfection means that dogs and other pets can safely cool off and play in the pool without the risk of skin irritation or other health concerns. This makes enzyme-based pools a more welcoming and inclusive environment for families with pets.


Enzyme-Based Disinfection in Action: Tailored Solutions for Indoor and Outdoor Pools


While the benefits of enzyme-based pool disinfection are applicable to pools of all types and locations, there are some specific advantages that make it particularly well-suited for certain environments.


Transforming Indoor Pools in the UK



Indoor pools in the UK have long struggled with the challenges of poor air quality and high chloramine levels, which can be exacerbated by the country's temperate climate and the enclosed nature of indoor pool facilities. Enzyme-based disinfection offers a solution to these issues, as it eliminates the need for harsh chlorine-based chemicals and the resulting off-gassing of chloramines 3. This not only improves the overall air quality but also creates a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for swimmers and staff.


Thriving in Warmer Outdoor Climates



In warmer climates, such as those found in Australia and other regions, outdoor pools face unique challenges related to the increased growth of algae and bacteria due to higher temperatures and sunlight exposure. Enzyme-based disinfection systems are particularly well-suited for these environments, as they effectively break down the organic matter that fuels the growth of these microorganisms 1 3. This helps maintain pool cleanliness and clarity without the need for excessive chlorine dosing, which can be both costly and environmentally damaging.


The Future of Pool Disinfection is Enzyme-Based


As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the environmental and health impacts of traditional pool disinfection methods, the rise of enzyme-based systems is poised to transform the way we think about pool maintenance and swimmer safety.


By offering a more natural, gentle, and sustainable approach to pool disinfection, enzymes are providing pool operators, swimmers, and pet owners with a viable alternative to the harsh realities of chlorine-based systems. From improved air quality and reduced skin and eye irritation to lower environmental impact and a more balanced microbial ecosystem, the benefits of enzyme-based disinfection are clear.


As the adoption of this innovative technology continues to grow, we can expect to see more and more pools, both indoor and outdoor, embracing the power of enzymes to keep their waters clean, clear, and safe for all to enjoy - including our furry friends. So, the next time you dive into your local pool, or watch your beloved pup splash around, take a moment to appreciate the hard work and forward-thinking that's going on behind the scenes to ensure a healthier, more sustainable swimming experience.




Richardson, S. D. (2011). Disinfection by-products and other emerging contaminants in drinking water. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 30(6), 960-968.


Villanueva, C. M., Cantor, K. P., Cordier, S., Jaakkola, J. J., King, W. D., Lynch, C. F., ... & Kogevinas, M. (2004). Disinfection byproducts and bladder cancer: a pooled analysis. Epidemiology, 357-367.


Zwiener, C., Richardson, S. D., De Marini, D. M., Grummt, T., Glauner, T., & Frimmel, F. H. (2007). Drowning in disinfection byproducts? Assessing swimming pool water. Environmental science & technology, 41(2), 363-372.


Jiang, J. Q. (2015). The role of coagulation in water treatment. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering, 8, 36-44.


Richardson, S. D. (2011). Disinfection by-products and other emerging contaminants in drinking water. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 30(6), 960-968.


Zwiener, C., Richardson, S. D., De Marini, D. M., Grummt, T., Glauner, T., & Frimmel, F. H. (2007). Drowning in disinfection byproducts? Assessing swimming pool water.

Environmental science & technology, 41(2), 363-372.


Lévesque, B., Duchesne, J. F., Gingras, S., Lavoie, R., Prud'Homme, D., Bernard, E., ... & Gingras, G. (2006). The determinants of prevalence of health complaints among young competitive swimmers. International archives of occupational and environmental health, 80(1), 32-39.


Origin Aqua. (n.d.). Sustainability. Retrieved from https://www.origin-aqua.com/sustainability


Jiang, J. Q. (2015). The role of coagulation in water treatment. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering, 8, 36-44.


Zwiener, C., Richardson, S. D., De Marini, D. M., Grummt, T., Glauner, T., & Frimmel, F. H. (2007). Drowning in disinfection byproducts? Assessing swimming pool water. Environmental science & technology, 41(2), 363-372.


Origin Aqua. (n.d.). Sustainability. Retrieved from https://www.origin-aqua.com/sustainability

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