Ultraviolet Pool Sanitizers 101

One of the responsibilities of pool ownership is keeping your swimming oasis free of bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms. There are several processes to maintain the health of your pool water. One increasingly popular method involves ultraviolet light.

About Ultraviolet Pool Sanitizers

The process for neutralizing harmful viruses and bacteria with ultraviolet waves was discovered nearly a century ago. Over 30 years ago, governments began incorporating the ultraviolet neutralizing process into the practice of sterilizing drinking water. And over the last decade, the technique has grown more popular in treating wastewater. Ultraviolet sanitizing is highly effective. When applied correctly, it destroys 99.99% of microorganisms in water.

Relatively simple to install and maintain, UV water purifiers require only an annual lamp and sleeve replacement to function. To clean water effectively, though, they need to be able to send their waves straight through, so it can't be too murky to begin with. UV sanitizers will only handle the tiny organisms, not other particulate matter, and they can't disintegrate the things they kill. Use them in conjunction with a filtering process that removes physical elements from water.

A boy swims through clear pool water

How the UV Process Works

Once the sanitizing equipment is installed, water passing through the lines is subjected to germicidal ultraviolet rays. The high intensity light will destroy the DNA of around 60 types of waterborne pathogens such as bacteria, cysts, algae, and viruses, making them unable to replicate and leading to their eventual elimination.

The rays also cancel out the impact of chlorine by-products known as chloramines, the pesky effects of which can include skin irritation, stinging eyes, allergies, and asthma.

Bacteria in a Petri dish

UV Sanitizer Safety

Ultraviolet sanitizers are considered safe since no UV rays can leave the system to affect the pool or nearby area. For added protection, they are typically built with a failsafe that will shut the lamp off if anyone accesses it. Direct exposure to UV-C light, the type used in these systems, can be dangerous for humans, injuring corneas and causing burns that can lead to cancer. Other substances, like plastics, can suffer wear and tear from exposure, too. Luckily, minimal annual maintenance is required to keep these UV systems safe and operating at peak capacity.

Since it's not a chemical process, UV sanitizing offers the major benefit of being environmentally friendly. With no side effects or byproducts, it introduces no pollutants that can be harmful to humans or animals. Although you may still wish to use some chemical sanitizers in conjunction with a UV system, the amount you need will be dramatically reduced. If there's any downside to UV lamps, it might be the electricity they require. Even that, though, is less than a 200 watt light bulb, making it affordable to run continuously.

Broadly Supported

UV sanitizers have the backing of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization, a group run by the United Nations.

For clean, clear swimming water with few chemicals and microorganisms, UV sanitization systems are among the best available options. In addition to their health and environmental benefits, these pool cleaners are easy to maintain, and relatively cheap. If you have a swimming pool or are thinking about installing one, it makes sense to consider ultraviolet water processing as part of your filter system. Your water and your skin will both feel better.