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Swimming Pool Water Testing: Why testing your pool water is essential for safety, comfort and longevity.

Sliding gently into the cool, silky waters of a crisp swimming pool on a muggy summer day is a pleasure that is difficult to match. Whether you do it for the peace brought about by being in and around a body of water, the health benefits of exercise, or the simple joys of splashing around with family, a swimming pool is a boon to the spirit, a valuable asset. But, as with all valuable possessions, it takes care and maintenance to ensure your pool is a gift that keeps on giving.

Treated properly, pool water should not be a hazard to your health or your wallet. Because, let’s be honest, bringing a pool back from disrepair is not an inexpensive feat. Undesirable buildup of foreign materials could cause damage in the pool’s structure and equipment ensuring a long, and arduous process of repairs that keeps you out of your oasis. This is in addition to the risks unsanitary water poses to your health. Research shows that a buildup of the wrong chemicals and/or bacteria from unsanitary conditions and algae causes health risks such as skin rashes, burning of the eyes, as well as ear, nose, and throat infections.

So, what is the best way to ensure a healthy swimming experience? We say vigilance and prevention, which starts with frequent, professional testing of your water to ensure it is in balance. Atlas labs, a leader in the testing and inspection industry, has all the tools and technical expertise your residential or commercial pool could ever need. We can not only determine what might be wrong, but also provide in-depth, analytical solutions on how to maintain an ideal balance for a happy and healthy aquatic experience.

The volume of tests we perform on pools is large, necessary, and thorough. Each of these parameters is key to various aspects of the experience we encounter while swimming and are, therefore, worth examining more closely.

Swimming pool water tests as performed by Atlas Lab

Total Alkalinity : The level of total alkalinity measures the water’s resistance to change in levels of pH. In case of frequently changing pH levels, it is important to first check this parameter. Maintaining TA within the recommended range of 50-500mg/l reduces the tendency of scale buildup on the pools surface that causes degradation of its structure. Correcting this parameter should be done before adjusting any others as doing so may automatically create balance elsewhere.

pH Value : This parameter is usually the one tested most often by any pool owner, as it is one of the most significant to water health. Measured on a scale from 1 to 14, pH determines the acidity of water. The ideal range for your pool is between 7.5 and 8.5. If the pH is too low, or too acidic, it can cause skin and eye irritation as well as cause corrosion on pool accessories such as railings, ladders, and other metal parts. Further, it can corrode metal parts of the pool’s maintenance system.
On the other hand, pH that is too high, or alkaline, can have similar effects on the body as acidic water as well as cause the water to become opaque instead of clear. Testing for this parameter on a fixed schedule ensures that problems like these are kept at bay.

Chlorine : In whatever form it is added into your pool, chlorine is one of the most important chemical maintenance systems for standard pools. As a potent disinfectant, it has the ability to kill bacteria introduced into the swimming environment through organic materials, sweat, open sores, urine, and fecal matter. Free chlorine levels refer to the active chlorine chemicals in the water that have not yet reacted with any contaminants. If this level is too low, it indicates that there is not enough of it to continue fighting harmful bacteria and needs to be replenished. Too much could mean the presence of toxic fumes emitting from the water that is harmful to the lungs. The optimal chlorine level depending on the type of pool you own is likely to be in the range of 0.2mg/l.

Absorbed Oxygen : Absorbed Oxygen : Absorbed Oxygen is an efficient test of your pool’s ability to turn wastewater, or water that contains any pollutants, into organic byproducts via oxidation. This test, by Indian standards, is more clearly referred to as ‘Oxygen absorbed in 4 hours’. As the water absorbs oxygen, it is oxidized and converts pollutants into organic materials. The oxygen absorbed in 4 hours should be at 1mg/l,

Total Dissolved Solids : Total dissolved solids is self-explanatory as far as the parameter’s name is concerned. It is the measure of everything that has dissolved in the water, from metals to chemicals and organic materials. For better understanding, it can be described as all the material that would be left behind if the fresh water were to evaporate completely. Since, total dissolved solids is affected by all the materials that come into contact with the pool water that is not solely fresh water, its buildup over time is inevitable. This buildup can contribute to ill effects on the quality of the swimming water as well as wear and tear of the equipment. This makes it necessary to ensure that the total dissolved solids level stays under the maximum capacity of 1500mg/l.

Chloride : Chloride, a compound of chlorine, can increase in pool water due to the introduction of organic materials such as soil from the environment. This compound is associated with high levels of sodium. Salt buildup on metal parts of a pool as a result of high chloride levels outside 500mg/l can cause corrosion and damage to the structure. Chloride, though not truly harmful to human consumption, can usually be detected because of the salty taste of high chloride water.

Iron : Iron is not something we think of when associated with the highly controlled environments of our outdoor oases. However, if pH (or other chemistry that causes buildup or corrosion) is off balance, the metal in the equipment and maintenance systems begins to corrode and iron can seep into the water. Though iron is not harmful to swimmers in less than extreme quantities, it can still cause damage to the structure of the pool itself through buildup and rust. It is best to maintain this level at a maximum of 0.1mg/l.

Aluminum : Alum, short for aluminum sulfate, is one of those chemical compounds that you look for in a healthy pool. As a flocculant, it attracts and traps suspended particles in the water, sinking them to the bottom so they can be vacuumed and filtered out through the swimming pool cleaning system. Aluminum sulfate is a manufactured compound that must be added to your pool and maintained at a level of 0.1mg/l,

Physical tests conducted for Swimming Pool Water

The five senses are one of our most powerful resources when it comes to noticing that something is wrong in an environment. The same can be said about how we perceive the health of our pool water. Turbidity, colour, odour and taste in particular are the tests that come in handy when looking for indication that our swimming pool water is healthy. In fact, they are measurable metrics.

Turbidity : Turbidity refers to the clarity of the water being tested. Water clarity is not only an aesthetic necessity of the ideal swimming pool, but also a good indicator of the health of your water. Water that is cloudy and obscures the visibility to where the bottom of the pool is not clearly seen is an indication that the pool chemistry is off balance, as well as a safety concern for swimmers who might be looking to jump in. Water turbidity should not exceed 10NTUs.

Colour : Colour is also an aesthetic requirement of a pool. No one likes to swim in green, murky waters. It could mean the buildup of organic materials and/or algae which changes the chemistry of the water in several ways. Colour is measured in hazen units and should not exceed 10 on the scale, where 1 is colourless.

Odour & Taste : Similarly, odour and taste should also be neutral, not musty, earthy, or fishy. The only smells and tastes coming through the water should be the slight but not overwhelming one of chlorine that indicates the water is being sanitized.

Microbiological Tests Conducted for Pool Water

Though tests like these are not widely done for swimming pools, Atlas Labs goes the extra mile to conduct microbiological tests such as E. Coli, total coliforms, and standard plate count to cover all your water quality testing bases.

Standard Plate Count : This parameter is a general bacteria test. Its purpose is to test the functioning of the existing chlorination system. Though it does not test for a specific type of bacteria, a high count is indicative of a possible problem with disinfection. The standard plate count should not exceed 100/ml.

Total Coliforms : Total coliform bacteria are a group of bacteria abundantly found in the environment, untreated water, the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, and humans. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find them in trace amounts in our immediate vicinities, pools included. However, a positive test does signal the presence of disease-causing bacteria. The maximum limit should not exceed 10cfu/ 100ml. In high quantities, this finding could be hazardous to swimmers’ health and requires further testing to determine the types of bacteria present and the risks they carry.

E. Coli : One such test to be carried out is for E. Coli. This bacteria is an indicator of fecal contamination that can cause serious health concerns such as severe diarrhoea and colon inflammation if ingested. Such are the risks that the results of this test should come back absent entirely. Occasional testing for these microbiological pathogens is best practice for healthy swimmers.

Atlas Labs: Your Preferred Swimming Pool Water Testing Partner

A swimming pool is an escape from the stresses of daily life, one that replenishes your mind, body, and soul. Whether alone or with family and friends, it can only truly be a revitalizing experience when you can rest assured that its upkeep and maintenance are under control. Worrying about scale buildup on the pool structure, green algae forming on the surface, equipment breakdowns, and the costs involved to repair it all, can certainly take the joy out of any experience.

Atlas labs is known for conducting tests of all kinds of industrial fluids, even major sources of drinking water, to ensure its quality and effectiveness is at par with national and international standards. Why should your pool water be any less important? We test your water in our highly accredited labs, maintaining the highest standards of quality control throughout the process. When testing is complete, the results are analyzed by our experts after which we can brief our clients on next steps to ensure their swimming pools are at, and stay at, optimum levels for a happy, healthy, and rejuvenating experience.

So don’t fret. Make a splash. Atlas Labs has got your back.

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