Chemical Safety: Commercial Pool & Spa

Almost all pool chemicals are environmental poisons, and many are dangerous oxidizers. Oxidizers don’t blow up, but they can burn so rapidly that it’s almost the same.

Transportation

For commercial purposes, you may need a federal driver’s license with a D.O.T. rider for hazardous materials handling, proper documentation in the front of the vehicle, showing quantities and types of hazardous materials, and an open telephone number that police can use to get detailed information on the hazard and clean-up. We don’t give legal advice, other than to tell you to check with the state police for details.

Keep all containers upright and wedged so that they remain that way. It’s easy for the caps to come off liquids. Liquid chlorines and hydrogen peroxides have vented caps-they will leak if tipped over.

Heat makes liquids expand. In a hot car, and especially a hot trunk, liquids can expand up and leak out of the bottle – especially liquid shocks. Muriatic acid is very dangerous. If you’re in an accident, could it break open and splash on you? It could kill you. Almost anything mixing with liquid chlorine (especially acid) creates poisonous chlorine gas. Don’t transport acid near liquid chlorine. Keep the acid in the trunk, and the chlorine up front. As it dries, spilled hydrogen peroxide becomes stronger. Spilled on a carpet, it can start a fire the next day.

Storage

Store solids above liquids – they are less likely to leak. Store chlorine and bromine way away from liquids, especially acids. Keep relatively benign chemicals: sand, DE, Total Alkalinity Increaser, Calcium Hardness Increaser, Floc, Clarifier as buffers between more active/dangerous chemicals: chlorine, bromine, algaecide, shock, acid. Store all chemicals in a cool, dry, well-ventilated room, away from open flames, gasoline, pilot lights, sparks (circuit breaker boxes) etc. Keep chlorine away from water. A small amount of water will ignite it. A small amount of algaecide will ignite it even faster. Keep everything in original containers only, away from children and anyone else who is not properly trained in chemical safety. Keep chlorine, acids, and bases away from any metal objects that you cannot afford to corrode.

Handling

Don’t touch anything until you’ve read the directions. Any scoops or measuring cups must be clean and dry. A small amount of water can ignite chlorine. Every year, fires are started when pool water splashes up on a scoop, and the scoop goes back into a bucket of chlorine. Never put any chemical into a thru-wall skimmer unless the directions specifically say to do so. Generally, Calcium Hardness Increaser, Chlorine Stabilizer, and DE will be ok, Chlorinators blow up all the time, when people pour shock into the skimmer. Never mix anything with chlorine, including more chlorine. Never mix chemicals together. Put them separately into the pool.

Never add water to a chemical. Add chemicals to water, especially acids and chlorines. Twice as much is not twice as good. Sometimes, 3/4 as much may as well be nothing. Follow directions exactly. Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves when handling chemicals. You only need to lose an eye once. Replace all covers tightly after each use. Don’t put anything into the pool while people are using it. When using chlorine gas, always have self-contained breathing apparatus available.

Disposal

Don’t spill anything. For almost every chemical, the only legal disposal is into the pool. When a container is empty (including plastic shock bags) wash it out in the pool before disposing. Even a small chemical residue can cause a fire.

No smoking while handling chemicals. Clean up spills immediately, and according to the label directions or SDS directions. Never put spilled chemicals back into the original container. Never allow any chemical to wash into a stream, well, or septic system. Don’t dispose of anything if you don’t know what you’re doing. Own: Safety glasses, filtered breathing mask, rubber gloves, rubber boots, rubber apron, clean mop, bucket, sponges etc., clean bags, covered containers and pails for storing cleaned up chemicals.

Legalities

Have a safety data sheet on every chemical, in a clearly accessible place. Have a second set nowhere near the chemicals – so you can read it during a fire. Read the SDS. Make sure everyone near the chemicals knows they have the right to read them. Post a policy – no one cleans anything up if they don’t know what they’re doing.  As soon as anything spills, someone responsible is to be notified immediately.

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IMPORTANT

We write Pool Tips™ for the exclusive use of our own local customers. They are meant as a summary of general information, to be discussed in our store, with our staff, to determine which items are best for specific pools.

  1. Do Not follow any advice or suggestions here without coming into the store, customizing them to your specifics, and receiving them in writing.
  2. Do Not print these out or reproduce for any purpose whatever. They are all copyrighted, and we take our copyrights very seriously.
  3. Don’t Blame Us for anything. It’s free advice, and worth the price paid. We’re trying to help, but pools are complex, and chemicals and electricity are dangerous.
  4. Our Best Advice: Go find a local pool dealer who knows what they are doing, become a steady customer, and give them a chance to learn about you and your pool. Pick a brand, pick a store, and stay with them.