ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Some pools in the metro may be smelling a little different this summer.
Instead of using chemicals like chlorine to keep the water clean, public pools are turning to a natural alternative.
For many, the joys of visiting a public swimming pool are limited because of the irritation to eyes and skin that comes with chlorine. But at some local pools, including the recently opened Como Park pool, that's not a problem thanks to sphagnum moss.
Medical doctor, David Knighton, owns Creative Water Solutions, a Minnesota company that treats pools and spas using sterilized and dried sphagnum moss.
The first difference you may notice in a pool treated with the moss, is that it smells different.
Knighton explains, "When you go into an indoor pool and you smell, oh there's chlorine in here, that's not chlorine. That's a combination of chlorine and nitrogen containing compounds that are called disinfectant byproducts. The moss decreases those by about 70 percent."
Chlorine is in the water to disinfect, but those disinfectant byproducts released are very irritating to skin, eyes and lungs.
"One of the big things we've found is that kids with asthma don't have to take their inhalers when they use the pool because those disinfectant byproducts are what irritate your lungs," says Dr. Knighton.
The moss doesn't kill any bacteria, but it prevents it from forming on the pools solid surfaces, which helps the chlorine disinfect the water more efficiently and stabilizes the pH, reducing the amount of chemicals needed by about half to maintain state regulations.
The moss is an economic decision as well because the pools end up using less chemicals. The moss costs about $300 per month for a public pool, and about $30 per month for a home swimming pool.
The moss is replaced each month, but its work doesn't end there. The decomposed moss is peat, which is used in the garden to loosen soil and retain moisture.
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