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SIGNS OF SWIM POOL CONTAMINATION ARE EASY TO SPOT

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With the luxury of having your own pool comes the responsibility of making sure the water isn't contaminated.

Signs of contamination are easy to spot, but they may not be what you expect, says Randy Redd, a Du Pont chemical engineer. "Most people think that if they can smell chlorine, the water is clean. But a strong chlorine odor is the smell of chloramines - the contaminated part of water. Chloramines are the chemical result of the reaction between chlorine and organic contaminants."That heavy chlorine smell, or water that irritates your eyes or is cloudy, signals contamination.

Common contaminants are suntan oil, sweat, rain, leaves and other windblown debris that may find their way into the water.

Redd, whose company makes Impact, a monosulfate used in making oxygen-based speed shocks for treating water, recommends maintaining your pool every two weeks. Repeat the maintenance routine any time there has been heavy use or heavy rain, or when the warning signs are present. Oxygen-based "shocking" can be done quickly with pool water ready for swimming within 15 minutes. The shocks should be used in conjunction with normal sanitizing and algae control.

In contrast, he says, with chlorination eight to 10 hours may elapse before the pool can be used. It also needs elaborate, precise calculation to administer, since insufficient chlorine can make the water dirtier. And that makes it such a chore that many pool owners only handle it a few times a year.