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Pink slime in pools

Pink Slime (and its “companion” white water mold) is a more recent problem that pool owners have faced for the past 10 to 20 years. They are of natural origin and are caused solely by a lack of proper pool maintenance and water chemistry. In fact, even those without pools struggle with pink slime in bathrooms, kitchens, and toilets. Have you ever noticed that pink ring around the sink? That’s pink slime.

Let’s define what pink slime is. Pink slime is a natural bacterium (of the newly formed genus Methylobacterium). Pink lime is NOT a form of algae, it is animal, not vegetable. It has pink or red pigmentation and forms a heavy protective slime layer that provides the body with an unusually high level of protection. Pink slime consumes methanol (a waste gas) and is often found WITH white water mold. This organism is highly elastic and resistant to halogens (chlorine or bromine), as well as non-halogen disinfectants or germicides and can remain a contaminant even after treatment.

Although initially found in pools treated with biguanides (Baquacil, Soft Swim, Polyclear, etc.), it is now seen in each and every pool environment. This is NOT a biguanide problem ONLY nor is it CAUSED by the use of biguanides.

The pink slime bacteria have an affinity for the matrix that exists on the surface of PVC plastics; will adhere to and within the matrix, allowing it to become recontaminated long after it appears to have been seemingly “destroyed” (includes pool toys, floats, ladders, steps, fountains, automatic pool cleaner parts, baskets skimmer, etc.). landfills, directional fittings, garden hoses, etc.). Small amounts of pink slime can cause a reset of the problem. It is caused by improper pool and water maintenance, environmental factors, and poor circulation. Pink slime prefers areas that are “dark” (not exposed to direct sunlight) and with “slow-moving” water. In another industry, medical technology, this bacterium occurs regularly in laboratory tubes.

Look for pink slime under the stair steps, behind the skimmer weir, in the skimmer baskets at the bottom, directional pool returns, underwater pool light niches, and light housings . If you find that the pool simply does not contain chlorine, bromine, or even hydrogen peroxide used in biguanide-treated pools, look for pink silt.

After regular monitoring of homeowners pools affected by pink slime, here are some commonalities:

  • Many, but not all, affected pools have “smaller (undersized”) cartridge filters. (i.e. using a 75 sq. ft. filter in a 24 ft. Rnd above ground pool or a 90 sq. ft. filter in a 15 x 30 inground pool).
  • The affected pools receive 6 hours or less of direct sunlight on the pool surfaces.
  • Pool owners always leave the solar blanket on AND do not chemically clean it the recommended 2 times a year to remove accumulated biofilm.
  • “Bumping” or oxidizing pool water is not done with the recommended directions on the label. For example, instead of shaking the pool every week or two, that task is neglected because the water “looks good.”
  • The rainy seasons in swimming pools see a dramatic increase in cases of pink slime.
  • Customers regularly add fresh water from their tap without running the water from the hose for a couple of minutes (the pink slime is already present in the garden hose and is transferred to the pool).
  • Pools with sand filters do not change the sand every 2 to 3 years AND they do not chemically clean the filter sand 3 times a season (once every 6 to 8 weeks).
  • Most recent observation: Most of those affected appear to use publicly treated drinking water. Pools filled with well water do not seem to be severely affected.
  • The affected pools do not receive as demanding chemical maintenance (water balance, use of borate additives such as BioGuard Optimizer Plus or Proteam Supreme, regular flushing), as clean pools.

Another observation is that many water companies across the country, in partial response to “consumer calls” to “get rid of chlorine in drinking water,” are now using monochloramine to treat water (for the past 15 to 20 years). Monochloramines do an essentially good job of treating pathogens in drinking water, however some of the non-pathogenic organisms may be surviving. Unfortunately, there is only experimental or anecdotal evidence.

Prevention of “pink slime” treatment is preferred. Follow these steps to help prevent pink slime:

  1. Physically brush and clean ALL pool surfaces weekly, including ladder steps (especially under each step) and rails
  2. Expose ALL pool surfaces to as much sunlight as possible (sunlight and UV rays are natural oxidants)
  3. Remove the skimmer lid to allow sunlight to enter the basket for several hours a day ** IN-GROUND POOLS SHOULD USE EXTREME CAUTION when doing this to prevent a person from falling or being injured by an open skimmer .
  4. Regularly add oxidizing chemicals to the skimmer to purge and clean the filter lines of any biofilm (be very careful if you do this. Add chemicals slowly and remove ANY and ALL objects, including slow-dissolving chlorine tablets or bars, to avoid a possible chemical). reaction as an explosion.
  5. When adding make-up water from the garden hose, let the water run for 2 to 3 minutes before placing the hose in the pool.
  6. Regularly clean pool toys and floats (use BioGuard Stow Away which acts as an anti-mold)
  7. Clean the solar pool blanket regularly (use BioGuard Stow Away)
  8. Chemically clean the pool filter every 4 to 6 weeks (use Strip Kwik, Kleen It, or Soft Swim® Filter Cleaner). This is a very important step regardless of the type of filter; sand, DE or cartridge.
  9. Add regular maintenance doses of “Shock” & Algicide every 1 to 2 weeks as prescribed (3 to 4 weeks in bguanide pools).
  10. Use borate products such as BioGuard Optimizer Plus as a preventative measure (borates, when used correctly at a rate of 50 to 80 ppm, allow the disinfectant to disinfect rather than disinfect and prevent algae growth).
  11. Run the filter a minimum of 12 hours a day to avoid “dead spots” in the pool.
  12. Remember to clean and rinse the brushes, hoses and vacuums you use to clean the pool
  13. Leave most of your pool equipment in the sun (sunlight is a natural oxidant)
  14. Keep the water balanced at all times. Recheck after heavy use or rain or large “fills” of new water. The water balance refers to the level of free available sanitizer, pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness.

Treatment of “pink slime” IT MUST BE QUICK AND TOTAL! DO NOT JUMP!

Clean entire pool and affected surfaces as above.

Physically clean and remove all visible “pink slime”

Add a starting dose of algaecide to the pool

“Shock” the pool with a triple or quadruple dose

Run the filter 24 hours a day until the water is clear and the halogen or peroxide levels are at a “higher” level.

Chemically clean the filter. Simply rinsing or backwashing the filter will not remove accumulated fats, oils, and other contaminants from the filter and filter tank.

Have your pool water tested and analyzed by a professional. Find a pool company that knows what they’re talking about and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth about the problem.

Maintain Optimizer Plus (or other borate product) levels

Maintain a good water balance of pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness

The longer you let the pink slime stay, the more difficult it will be to cure.

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