May 10, 2021

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Chlorine shortages threaten to overwhelm the US pool season


Summer 2021 could be another problem as chlorine shortages threaten to spoil the US pool season.

The spike in pool use last summer, due to people staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic, has made chlorine tablets scarce this year.

The shortage was exacerbated by a fire at a chemical plant in August that destroyed one of the country’s main suppliers.

The shortage is expected to raise prices by at least 60 percent and force sanitation workers to look for alternatives to chlorine.

Due to the high use of swimming pools during the epidemic shutdowns, chlorine prices jumped 37 percent in March, and could rise another 60 percent from June to August.

Swimming pools were originally kept clean by means of filtration systems and frequent water changes.

But this technique was not very effective, as it allowed germs to multiply.

After British scientist Sims Woodhead used calcium chloride to disinfect drinking water during an outbreak of typhoid in 1897, experts realized that it could be used as an effective cleaning agent in swimming pools as well.

The first attempt to sterilize a swimming pool using chlorine was at Brown University in 1910, when the 70,000-gallon Colgate Hoyt Ball pool was treated with chlorine.

Experts describe this as the worst chlorine shortage in history, with prices for a 50-pound bucket nearly doubling to $ 140 in some places.  Some suppliers have begun to limit the amount of chlorine that customers can purchase

Experts describe this as the worst chlorine shortage in history, with prices for a 50-pound bucket nearly doubling to $ 140 in some places. Some suppliers have begun to limit the amount of chlorine that customers can purchase

When chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid called hypochlorous acid, which kills bacteria like salmonella and e-coli, as well as the germs that cause diarrhea, swimmer’s ear, and other illnesses.

It effectively breaks down the pathogen and penetrates into the cell walls.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a properly chlorinated swimming pool should kill the Coronavirus, although there isn’t a great deal of research on it.

“Based on what we know about chlorine and other viruses, swimming in a properly maintained pool is likely to be safe, provided you continue to observe the rules of social distancing and proper hand hygiene,” said Dr. Cristina Cicogna, an infectious disease specialist.

That may help explain why chlorine supplies are running out across the United States: In the summer of 2020, as most Americans were forced to take shelter in their homes, many spent the time diving.

Chlorine prices jumped 37 percent in March, according to Yahoo! Funding, and the shortfall could push prices up another 60 percent from June to August.

To make matters worse, BioLab, one of the country’s largest chlorine manufacturers, burned out in August following Hurricane Laura.

Residents of Lake Charles, Louisiana, have been ordered to stay indoors to avoid contact with dangerous chemical fumes.

CNBC reports that BioLab will not be up and running until the spring of 2022.

That leaves only two factories, Occidental Petroleum and Cleron, that supply chlorine tablets to the entire country.

BioLab, one of the country's largest chlorine manufacturers, burned down in August following Hurricane Laura.  Residents have been ordered to stay indoors to avoid contact with dangerous chemical fumes

BioLab, one of the country’s largest chlorine manufacturers, burned down in August following Hurricane Laura. Residents have been ordered to stay indoors to avoid contact with dangerous chemical fumes

When chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid called hypochlorous acid, which kills bacteria like salmonella and e-coli, as well as the germs that cause diarrhea and swimmer's ear.

When chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid called hypochlorous acid that kills bacteria like salmonella and e-coli, as well as the germs that cause diarrhea and swimmer’s ear.

The result is what experts call the worst chlorine shortage in US history.

Some suppliers have started limiting how much customers can buy.

The epidemic even resulted in a shortage of plastic buckets to put in pills.

Alan Curtis, who runs Ask the Pool Guy in Brighton, Michigan, says this is the first time in 34 years in the business that he’s forced to turn to chlorine storage.

″[I expect pool owners] We will have to go from tablets to chlorine powder, from chlorine powder to liquid chlorine, and from liquid chlorine to shock and non-chlorinated things.

“And I think literally all of those are going to run out,” said Curtis, who is expected to run out by late May.

Scotty Hare, Las Vegas pool services operator, told CNBC that a bucket of chlorine valued at $ 75 would be $ 140, “with a suggested price of $ 158 in the near future.”

There are approximately 8.4 million swimming pools in the United States, according to ForRent.com, and nearly two-thirds of them use chlorine tablets.