Is diatomateous earth hazardous in pool water

I have been given some terrible advice from a collection of ‘experts’ and have wound up with approx 5lbs of food grade DE mixed into my 16.000 gal pool.

IS THIS A HEALTH HAZARD??? Pool is quarantined at the moment.

Just stir it up and let the filter remove it.

I can’t image what kind of hazard it would be anyway - you’re not planning on drinking the pool water, are you?

Can I ask; what was the goal with putting the diatomateous earth in the pool water?

Could it injure eyes?

Probably not a problem, but moving this to IMHO from General Questions.

samclem moderator

Diatomaceous earth is often "used as a filter medium, especially for swimming pools. "
Also used to filter certain drinks and foods. Why the alarm? This is a standard use for a mostly inert natural material with hundreds/thousands of cites online. Diatomaceous earth - Wikipedia

Prepare for it to clog the filter. Hubby is a Brewmaster and uses food grade DE to filter his beer at the brew pub. It plugs up quite often.

Depends on a few things:

Are you SURE it’s food-grade DE? Not pool-grade?

Are you SWIMMING in the pool, or DRINKING it?

I don’t know that a filter is going to get it out, but it should reduce the load at least a little.
Food-grade DE isn’t going to hurt anything at all except maybe your pool filter system. It’s pure, and finer grained than pool-grade, so there’s every chance it won’t actually do anything at all. It is inert, and won’t hurt people. Once it dries around the rim of the pool, there might be some unhappy bugs around, but it won’t even do that while it’s in the water.
On the other hand, pool-grade DE has other crap (mostly chemical salts) mixed in that I have no knowledge of the filtration and removal thereof. It is NOT suitable for eating or drinking, but as it’s pool-grade, I can’t imagine that it would be unsuitable for the use it’s designed for.
Either way, your pool filter will likely suffer if it’s not designed for use with DE, but you’ll be fine.

The danger is breathing large quanities of it.

If you have DE in your pool, do you have a DE or sand filter?

Is it visible?

If both are yes, sweep it to one spot and vacuum to waste.

Cartridge filters may not have a “waste” setting, in which an auto cleaner of some sort (if suction, use the leaf trap option) and see if it gets trapped.

If it does, problem solved, if it is too fine to see or snag in a cleaner’s bag, it is probably not an issue - it is intended to get intermixed with food, after all?

If you have some dry, try sniffing - if it doesn’t burn your nose, it probably won’t burn your eyes.

And, I’ll plug Troublefreepool - a good source for advice on all things pool/spa in- or above- ground

Not only is diatomite used to prepare all sorts of foods, it’s also a major feed component for some cattle. People use it as a body feed in filtrations like haze removal from wine or fruit juice, so that it keeps the otherwise tight and slimy filter cake from blinding the filter. Then they collect the mix of haze proteins and cell walls and diatomite, and feed it to cattle. The diatomite itself just passes through inert.

I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to go swimming in this pool. I’m sure it’s fine.

If it’s* in the pool,* anyone breathing it is going to have bigger problems than the DE abrading their lungs. Just IMO.

It isn’t going to magically eject itself from the pool into a fine particulate haze in the air for you to huff it. It’s essentially ground-up shells. Even if it is food-grade (finer particles) and IF somehow large quantities did get in the air, it would fall back out extremely quickly.

It’s not very nice to post one-liners that scare people who don’t know what they’re dealing with.

It comes with warnings about getting it in your eyes or lungs. It’s like microscopic glass shards. People use it in the garden to kill small insects. It’s cuts them up.

Not sure about the danger of it in pool water, but I wouldn’t open my eyes underwater with it, just in case.

Using it as a filter isn’t the same as ingesting it. You aren’t supposed to get it on your bare skin either, I seem to recall.

I used to use it on my aquariums back in the day. It will physically filter out the ick parasite, for instance. I’ve spilled some into the water column of the tanks before, and the fish didn’t all die from a thousands cuts, as it were, so YMMV.

Hijacking a bit - we’ve got some DE spread about the apartment due to god damn fucking ants getting everywhere. It’s the kind one buys at Home Depot. The question is - now that the GDFA are gone, how thoroughly do we need to clean up the DE? It’s on countertops, floor, etc and Husband was pretty heavy-handed with it.

You might want to be careful vacuuming it. Not sure if DE and regular vacuums play nice. If something gets fine enough like printer toner it will blow through the finest crevices in the vacuum bag intake seals and spread the crap you are trying to vacuum up everywhere.

It’s only a problem if it’s handled in a way that causes dust clouds that you may breathe. Just sweep it up Maggie, into a dustpan, and throw it out. Be fairly gentle about it so as not to make it airborne, but I’ve put it down and swept it back up often enough. I vacuum what’s left after sweeping, using a HEPA filter vacuum bag. If you ever need to apply it again, a fine dusting is all that’s needed. If you want to be extra cautious, wear a surgical mask during application and cleanup until it settles.

Heh. Yeah, Husband was … liberal in the spreading of it around the place, because of his white-hot hatred of all antkind. I’ll let him know what to do about it.

Get as much up as you can using wet media - it won’t get kicked up.

Taking it another step, use a carpet shampooer if it’s on a surface that a shampooer can clean.

IOW: Trap it is water, clean up water.

Dumping it in a pool is a bit overboard :smiley:

Oh jeeze. Apparently today he saw ants on the coffee table and the kitchen counters. All of the above are now practically coated in drifts of DE. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if my laptop wasn’t also on the coffee table, and has several white streaks on the keyboard.

I persuaded him to use DE instead of poison; I have created a monster.