Chlorine Shortage Could Impact Millions of Pools This Summer — Here’s What You Should Know
One expert nicknamed it "Poolmageddon," but don't fear, there are alternatives to chlorine
Swimmers may have to wait a little while longer before diving into summer.
The United States is experiencing a nationwide chlorine shortage fueled by a pandemic-induced swimming pool boom and a fire at a major chemical plant in Louisiana, according to multiple outlets.
Demand for swimming pools has skyrocketed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as people spend more time outdoors and in their backyards — and that demand has put a strain on chlorine supplies, CNBC reported.
Chlorine is used in swimming pools to disinfect water and protect swimmers from waterborne diseases, according to the Safe Drinking Water Foundation. Chlorine can also prevent algae growth and mosquito infestations.
Cody Saliture, owner of Texas Pool Professionals, told CNBC he's started stockpiling chlorine tablets and researching other chemicals that can sanitize his customers' pools.
"It's been a concern for us," Saliture said. "We've been to about six states and 15 cities [for supplies]."
In August, the scarcity was further exacerbated when one of the country's biggest suppliers of chlorine tablets, BioLab in Louisiana, burned down after Hurricane Laura rocked the state.
According to CNBC, the plant isn't expected to resume manufacturing until spring 2022.
"We know how essential our products are to everyday families at home ... that's why we are investing $170 million in rebuilding our BioLab facility — to be even bigger and better. Once complete, the plant will operate at 30% greater production capacity," a spokesperson for BioLab's parent company, KIK Consumer Products, said in a statement to CNBC.
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There are about 5.2 million residential inground pools and 255,000 commercial pools in the United States, according to Pkdata, an Atlanta-based research firm that specializes in swimming pool, hot tub and spa data. Randy Stankowitz, CEO of the Aquatic Facility Training & Consultants company in Gainesville, Florida estimates that 60-70% of those pools use chlorine tablets, CNBC reported.
"I call it 'Poolmageddon' … it's a chlorine crisis," he told the outlet. "A lot of people are not going to be able to find the chlorine tablets they need this season."
But pool owners shouldn't panic — there are several other options for keeping your outdoor oasis cool and clean for the summer.
Experts at leading swim retailer PoolSupplyWorld recommend switching to a saltwater pool system, which generates its own chlorine via electrolysis, or considering other chlorine alternatives, like an ozone generator, UV or mineral packs.