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Cover Your "You Know What" on CYA

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As a pool operator, you're likely aware that cyanuric acid (CYA)—also known as chlorine pool stabilizer or conditioner—is a chemical compound used to stabilize the chlorine within a pool and prevent it from being eaten away by the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

While it is a crucial component within a pool’s composition, many do not understand the potentially negative and even disastrous effects that too much CYA can have on a pool. 

A lack of cyanuric acid can result in the dissipation of chlorine. For example, the sun can eat up to 1 ppm of chlorine every hour without protection, while CYA significantly increases the amount of time it takes for chlorine to eliminate harmful microorganisms.

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Slowing Down the Process
The more CYA used, the longer the chlorine takes to kill these microorganisms (CYA levels of 50 ppm and higher slows pool treatment drastically). This makes it very difficult to achieve the necessary 99.9 percent inactivation level by hyperchlorination, resulting in the perfect environment for parasites such as cryptosporidium parvum, which can cause acute gastrointestinal illness that can result in severe illness or even death.

Know the Limits
To keep up with the times, here are a few steps that all pool operators and facility owners can take to prepare for the coming safety regulations regarding CYA levels:

  1. Check CYA levels regularly – at least once a month.
  2. Never use CYA on indoor pools where sunlight cannot reach.
  3. Outdoor pools should be limited to 20 ppm at all times.
  4. Have a CYA test kit on hand and educate staff on how to use and understand the readings. (Be sure the kit is of high sensitivity. Many kits fail to measure below 30 ppm CYA.)
  5. Be sure to check the current CYA level before adding any more. The most efficient way to reduce CYA is to partially drain the pool and add fresh water.

Keep Up to Date
There are all sorts of opinions on the CYA issue. The most credible way to stay educated on CYA is by bookmarking the CDC’s Healthy Swimming website. The website is a great resource to bookmark for this and other issues related to water quality. 

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