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A Chlorine Shortage Could Spoil Pool Season This Summer

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

A dip in a pool is one of life's pleasures. With more than 10 million residential pools and more than 300,000 public pools in the U.S., it's a pleasure that can be had, except there's now another shortage.

RUDY STANKOWITZ: I call it poolmageddon (ph). It's a chlorine crisis.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Chlorine, the chemical that zaps bacteria and keeps water clean, is, like a lot these days, in short supply. Poolmageddon is here. Rudy Stankowitz is a columnist for PoolPro Magazine. He points to the price of chlorine tablets. It's up 50% in some markets. It could double by the end of the year. This is due in part to a fire at a factory in Louisiana last summer when Hurricane Laura hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Video shows black smoke rising from BioLab, a chlorine manufacturing plant in Westlake.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Eight hundred tons of chlorine wiped out, but the shortage is also due to increased demand because of - everybody say it with me now - the pandemic. People stayed home.

STANKOWITZ: They couldn't go anywhere. They couldn't go on vacation. They couldn't go to movie theaters. They couldn't go to water parks - whatever it was going to be.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So people who could get pools put in or set up did. Stankowitz says the market actually grew by 24% last year. More pools, more need for chlorine. This season, with that factory offline, wholesalers turned to other manufacturers, and that means higher shipping costs, factoring into tablets that usually run 90 bucks a pop selling for as much as 140 - ouch. But Rudy Stankowitz says pool owners should not panic like Americans did with toilet paper. Just buy the regular number of tablets you normally do. There's no reason to stock up. And if you can't find them...

STANKOWITZ: There is powdered chlorine, and they can definitely switch to that. We also have liquid chlorine bleach, and we have calcium hypochlorite tablets that folks could use.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He recommends talking to your local pool professional before you go changing chemicals. And while this is a pain, Rudy Stankowitz says it does have an end date.

STANKOWITZ: The BioLab factory expects to be back online April of 2022, so we only have to make it through one year of whatever this is.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And poolmageddon, the a-pool-calypse (ph), whatever it is - this, too, shall pass.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN LURIE'S "AFRICAN SWIM (END TITLE)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.