Extreme heat causes ‘sun breakdown’ of pool disinfectants

Problem Solvers

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – The sun can rapidly break down disinfectants in pools during days of sweltering heat and high UV indices. These occurrences make public health inspections of pools even more important.

On Thursday, the FOX31 Problem Solvers tagged along with Tri-County Health Department authorities to examine the inspection process at Aurora’s Meadow Hills Swimming Pool. Families flocked to the pool on Thursday for heat relief.

Before opening, Brian Mead, an environmental health specialist, collected samples of the pool water. He tested levels of chlorine, PH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and cyanuric acid—a chlorine stabilizer.

“[The acid] keeps the chlorine from getting burned up and used up in the sunshine,” Mead explained.

The powerful sunshine this week can spell trouble for pools that are not properly stabilized with cyanuric acid.

“The sun will break down most disinfectants pretty rapidly, especially on days like this,” Mead said.

Mead said the Meadow Hills pool did just fine during his inspection.

Overall, it’s a busy time for Mead and his colleagues. Five staffers inspect every public and semi-public pool in Douglas, Arapahoe and Adams Counties twice every year, according to water program supervisor Michael Weakley.

“We’ve got several hundred pools,” Weakley said. “Most of their work is between the June and August time frame.”

Inspections on pools, just like restaurants, are public records. The Tri-County Health Department has those records ready to review on its website.

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