Pool Operator Course Tips – Sunscreen and Water Chemistry

To protect ourselves from harmful UV rays, we often use sunscreen before spending a day outside by the pool. While it is a great way to protect our skin, sunscreen can wreak havoc on the water chemistry of our swimming pool. Please keep in mind, this does NOT mean swimmers should avoid using sunscreen. Our pool operator course is intended to educate both private pool owners and Certified Pool Operators ® on how to properly compensate for sunscreen in pool water. 

The Effects of Sunscreen 

So what exactly occurs when things like sunscreen and tanning oil enter pool water? The oils in these substances can build up to leave a film on the top layer of the water. They can also create a slimy buildup on the pool walls, cause the water to become cloudy, and clog the pool filters. The build-up throws off the water chemistry of the entire pool, creating more dangerous and less sanitary swimming conditions. It can also cause discomfort for swimmers, who can suffer from eye and skin irritation. 



Refusing to wear sunscreen is not an advisable way of keeping sunscreen out of the pool and is not recommended in any legitimate pool operator course. However, there are some ways to reduce the amount of sunscreen entering the pool water. One way to do so is through proper signage and swimmer education. For example, you can post signs recommending that swimmers wait 30 minutes after they have applied sunscreen to allow for the sunscreen to absorb into the skin. Signs that encourage the use of showering before swimming can also be effective. If you own a private residential pool, you can opt for using UV-protective clothing or sunscreen with fewer added chemicals when you know you could end up swimming in the pool. 

Water Chemistry

The larger the swimming facility, the harder it is to prevent sunscreen from entering the pool in the first place. Because of this inevitability, swimming pool operators must have a strong understanding of how to maintain proper pool water chemistry. This understanding is essential to any pool operator course. 

When you first notice that pool water has become hazy and cloudy, you should consider shocking the pool. You may consider a clarifier which causes the oil to clump together in a way that can manually removed from the water. Enzyme treatments can also be effective in removing oily substances like sunscreen from a pool.  Properly balancing water chemistry to counteract sunscreen in the water is no simple feat. The best way to understand the process is by taking a professional pool operator course. 


On top of prevention and water chemistry balancing, proper maintenance and cleaning can also help solve the sunscreen problem. Clean your filters regularly, replacing filter cartridges when recommended. Make sure that the pool filters have the proper flow rate for your unique situation and that you are using the right run time and turnover rate. 


Certified Pool Operator Course

You can learn more about this topic and much more by becoming a Certified Pool Operator (CPO®). The CPO® certification class is a great start to becoming a pool expert. Pool Operation Management’s award-winning CPO certification courses train you how to properly operate a swimming pool. Our two-day courses offer a wealth of information and training in everything from pool chemicals, to energy conservation to surface water removal.  If you have no interest in learning, we can take care of the maintenance with pool cleaning services! Aside from our exceptional CPO® courses, we offer a wide range of services for both commercial and residential pools, including maintenance, consultation, and more. Our proven expertise also qualifies us to act as expert witnesses in pool-related legal disputes. We exemplify unmatched knowledge, experience, and customer service that you are sure to appreciate.  For the very best in everything related to pools, contact us today.


*This information is obtained from the Certified Pool and Spa Operator Handbook. This information may not be applicable to your pool based on your pool type and location. One should reference all applicable regulations and standards for your facility.

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