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If you are a pool owner it is likely that you have heard of diatomaceous earth. Preferred over sand and cartridge filtration systems by some pool owners, diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective filtration solution for pools as it helps weed out smaller contaminants and debris and is a lot more compact than the other two filters.
But is diatomaceous earth for pools dangerous? Before we get into that let us first understand what DE is and why it has such a bad image in the pool maintenance world.
What Are DE Filters?
DE is used in many applications; as livestock feed, pest control, healthy supplement, and industrial and pool filtration.
DE is essentially the fossilized remains of microscopic aquatic organisms known as diatoms. Found in the form of sedimentary rock known as silica the DE found within is treated to produce two types of DE products; Pool Grade and Food Chemical Codex Grade.
Diatomaceous Earth For Pools Dangers
What DE filters have is, in fact, Pool Grade DE that goes through a treatment process where it is calcined. The treatment helps DE to be more effective at filtration but can also be dangerous to human health.
During the calcined treatment process, high temperature is used to harden DE which makes it great as a filter but can also lead to silicon dioxide, found within DE, to turn into crystalline silica. In high concentrations, crystalline silica is dangerous to human and animal health.
The hardening process is vital as this is what allows huge void spaces to form within DE allowing it to latch on to contaminants, dust, and debris found in pool water.
A DE filter relies on a pre-coat layer of DE to trap solid particles of dust, debris, algae, and other contaminants and prevent them from recirculating back into the pool.
There is no doubt that diatomaceous earth is an effective pool filter. As far as the dangers it poses? Well, remember the following and you should have no dangers to worry about.
- Always wear a dust mask when handling DE
- If any spillage is to occur make sure you clean it using water so that no dust particles get into your pool
- Have a separation tank with a canvas strainer bag attached next to the DE filter. This will effectively prevent any DE from entering the city sewage system keeping you and others safe from potential harm