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Salt can take the chlorine sting out of swimming

Advocates say a salt-based system for keeping pools clean and fresh can get rid of that overwhelming chlorine smell, which can irritate lungs and trigger asthma attacks.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Going green with your pool care can take the chlorine sting out of swimming.

The Rex Wellness pool at Wakefield, which opened in January, uses a salt-based system to keep the water clean and fresh.

"We actually get to keep our chlorine levels very low, because we're not manually adding chlorine and keeping it chlorinated that way," said Summer Phinney, with Rex Wellness.

Big generators in the pump room separate the saline solution. That produces a chlorine gas, which dissolves back into the water.

That overpowering chlorine smell, which can irritate lungs and trigger asthma attacks, is gone.

Swimmer Dorcas Holt said that change is exactly why she likes the Rex Wellness pool.

"I used to go to another place that had chlorine, and it bothers my eyes," Holt said.

Holt also found another benefit to the new chlorination system: "The salt water is much better for your skin, for your complexion," she said.

The switch to the saline solution can be made in home swimming pools, as well as public ones.

"About 90 percent of our in-ground pools, our new sales, are saline," said Tara Onthank, with Rising Sun Pools in Raleigh.

The saline system costs more upfront, between $600 and $1,300. It saves money in the long run, though, because its operating costs are about half of the chlorine system's, Onthank said.

Some pool care professionals caution that saline systems are corrosive and use more energy. But Onthank praised its health benefits.

"My son, when he was 6-weeks-old, I had him in our salt-system pool. I never would have had him in a chlorine pool," she said.


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