YMCAs Reputation for Chlorine
YMCA pools often get a bad rap for having high levels of chlorine. In our conversations with chlorine-sensitive swimmers, people seem to use the term "YMCA pool" as automatically suggesting high chlorine levels. For example, someone called SwimSpray today and explained, "I swim in a salt water pool during the summer... but I swim indoors in the winter, and it's at a YMCA pool!"
The center for disease control recommends that swimming pools maintain a chlorine concentration of about 1.0 - 3.0 parts per million. Provided that all pools generally follow these recommendations, there is no reason to believe that YMCA pools should be expected to have more chlorine. So why the bad reputation? Here are a few possibilities.
Today on Twitter, @TylerVanKooten tweeted the photo at the left, noting that "Seems like the chlorine level at the YMCA is pretty high today." While the tweet seems to joke at a 420 reference, the data also shows 4.20 parts per million chorine, which is in fact quite high (i.e., concentrated).
Two days before, @annabethfray posted "Ok so the ventilation at my ymca is crap and they had too much chlorine in the pool so everyone was coughing because we couldnt breathe omg"
And the day before that, @frankie_swags 14
exclaimed, "Oh Vineland YMCA, how I've missed your smell of chlorine and sweat and broken dreams."
Higher water temperatures, aging equipment, and poor pool ventilation could contribute to the impression that certain pools have higher than normal levels of chlorine. Notably many people mistake chlorine odor (coming form chloramines) for "chlorine," which is technically a toxic, odorless, yellow gas. The best way to be sure of a pool's chlorine concentration is to measure the chemicals with a chemical test kit.
The bottom line is that it would be unfair to generalize all YMCA pools as having offensively high chlorine levels. To the contrary some YMCA pools are leaders in reducing chlorine concentrations. One example is the Cumberland County YMCA Portland Branch on Forest Avenue in Portland, Maine. That pool benefits from a new discovery that adding an enzyme to pool water reduces the phosphate level, requiring less chlorine and saving some money.
Yes, a YMCA pool pioneers milder chlorine levels! Perhaps it is time to stop holding those pools out as characteristically over-chlorinated. In any event, a person wanting to eliminate the adverse side-effects of chlorine after swimming should rinse with a vitamin C spray during their post-swim shower. Here's how.