Olympic Gold..or….Green?

Olympic Gold..or….Green?

♒ We know that green is Brazil’s favorite color, and the Olympics are trying to Go Green for the environment, but even so, the overnight change in color of the Olympic swimming pool from an azure blue to murky green took scientists and sportsmen by surprise. While officials hastened to assure athletes that the green waters posed no health threat, the mystery caused much speculation. Caipirinha-flavored Soylent? Stiffed by Trump’s pool cleaning service? Who peed in the water?

♒ “Midafternoon, there was a sudden decrease in the alkalinity in the diving pool, and that’s the main reason the color changed,” said Mario Andrada, a Rio 2016 spokesman. So, the pool became more acidic. But acidic water is not green. There are two likely explanations: first, excess copper in the water can turn it green, but not murky. The latter is caused by a sudden and rapid growth of algae, triggered by the warm weather, lack of wind, insufficient chlorine and ineffective filters.

♒ Algal spores can enter the water inadvertently, carried by wind, rain and contaminated swimsuits. When the conditions are right, they can “bloom” overnight. Because these algae are visible only under the microscope, there must be millions of them in the water to change the pool color from blue to green. One way to deal with them, after normalizing the pH, is *superchlorination*—aka shocking them with high levels of chlorine. Not all the Olympians are complaining: Canadian divers said that the contrast with the sky helped them win the bronze.

♒ Pix: The Olympic diving pool on August 8 (left) and the Olympic diving pool on August 9 (right) Image: AP

#rioolympics2016   #swimming  

This entry was posted in Rajini Rao, Science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

206 Responses to Olympic Gold..or….Green?

  1. Pam Adger says:

    Nope… not worth it. I wouldn’t dive into that water.

  2. Steve S says:

    “insufficient chlorine and ineffective filters”

  3. Wow that is not good…

  4. Somebody tell me again why we do this Olympic thing?

  5. Steve S says:

    Michael Verona $$$

  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Michael Verona I hear you! Is the price tag a billion…or two?

  7. Michael Verona Naively, cause we bought into the idea that it brings nations together. Of course, the real reason is the pockets that get lined in the process.

  8. Thank you for the explanation Rajini Rao​. Thought along the lines but I preferred to think that in such events cleanliness was always a priority.

  9. nice tell me this photoes in rio olympies

  10. Rajini Rao​ I have had similar effects in my garden pond! Nothing I have ever played with in the garden demonstrates the interconnectedness of ecosystems faster that the pond. I changed fish and everything changed in a few hours!

  11. If it were due to an excess of dissolved copper, they could’ve held a copper plating ceremony so everyone could get a participation metal.

  12. Ram Charan says:

    Hello I am Ramcharan

  13. K K says:

    The last person out after a massive orgy the athletes were having in the pool the night before, forgot to pour chlorine.

  14. Thanks again for a very informative post (as always)~^^

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Daniela Huguet Taylor I did see that article! There are contradictory statements from officials about the presence of algae. I’m trying to figure out why the chemical imbalance would turn the pool green. So far, the problem has been blamed on pH and chlorine, but how does that change the color of the water? I’m hoping that someone can explain!

    The most detailed discussion is in this link: http://www.vox.com/2016/8/9/12417804/rio-olympics-2016-pool-green

    One: A low or high pH can bring out minerals. “Calcium would show itself as cloudy water, copper would show up as a blue-green,” he says.

    Two: A too-high pH would render the chlorine ineffective, which could then allow for the proliferation of algae.

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    nomad dimitri biological control is wonderful! The change in fish probably altered the balance of small organisms and nutrients in the water and kept the algal blooms down. I hope you took before and after photos!

  17. Rajini Rao yes, I saw it too. But every comment about algae seems to come from non-official sources. And I’ve also seen a comment by a diver that said the water was clean, non-sticky, didn’t leave any residue on her skin. Surely that much algae in the water would be noticeable on the skin?

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    Daniela Huguet Taylor  I don’t know about the skin residue (I’ve not been in a green pool!). When I searched websites on pool maintenance, this seems to be a common problem. Typically it’s ascribed to microscopic algae. If not algae, how does pH change water color? It’s a mystery 🙂

  19. Rajini Rao I have! Living in Mallorca, we have a lot of swimming pools, and also “albercas”, which are like rustic swimming pools (water deposits for farming, but always used in summer to swim in). Algae leave you sort of slimy/sticky.

    Anyway, from the article:

    One: A low or high pH can bring out minerals. “Calcium would show itself as cloudy water, copper would show up as a blue-green,” he says.

    Two: A too-high pH would render the chlorine ineffective, which could then allow for the proliferation of algae. (Hernandez says it’s doubtful, though, that the green color is mainly from algae. It typically doesn’t bloom that fast in such large pools.)

    There’s your answer, calcium and copper. 🙂

  20. Always so brave & Very nice jump

  21. Daniela Huguet Taylor Highly doubtful. I’ve removed and deposited copper onto metal from solution many times. That color green in that size pool would require quite a bit of copper.

  22. Nicknamed Sin it’s not me that says so, but a professional.

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    All good points, Daniela! One issue with the copper theory is that the water was murky, not clear. The divers complained that they could not spot each other in the pool.

  24. Rajini Rao wouldn’t that be “cloudy”, from the calcium?

  25. Rajini Rao says:

    Daniela Huguet Taylor  Yes, it could be a combination of calcium for murkiness and copper for green color.

    On the other hand, the consensus is that algal blooms can be very rapid. Unless someone comes up with more definitive tests, we won’t know for sure. This CNN report 4 hours ago cites conflicting theories: http://goo.gl/khSKT6

  26. Daniela Huguet Taylor Regardless of whose opinion you were restating, I was sharing my position with you in regards to the topic at hand, not suggesting that your conclusion was incorrect. If my comment seemed anything but friendly, my apologies.

  27. Nicknamed Sin regardless, seeing as a professional has stated that that was the likely cause, I am in no position to argue your counterargument, nor doubt their verdict. I have no tools to do so.

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    Thank you for debating the science and please let me know if you have links to additional updates on this strange story. Daniela Huguet Taylor and Nicknamed Sin 

  29. thuktan bodh says:

    Hello nice tip thanks

  30. Ajit Ahiwale says:

    Wow very nice jump….

  31. Daniela Huguet Taylor you just countered my argument with: A professional said so. Your tool is the device that connected to the server which displayed the article you pasted, thus enabling you to restate the conclusion you found most favorable. I say favorable because, in your words, you are in no position to doubt, nor counter, the arguments. You are, however, in a position to speculate and converse about such things, which is the point of social media, no? Argumentation. Always fun. Cheers.

  32. Rajini Rao absolutely. I can hardly wait now that I’ve taken a position on the matter.

  33. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, I have to agree that arguing is fun Nicknamed Sin . I was once given a driving ticket by a cop because I argued with him (I cleared it in traffic court by arguing, of course). My parents were amazed that I didn’t go into law.

  34. Daniela Huguet Taylor wonderful commeents

  35. Nicknamed Sin I don’t find any position more favourable than another, I don’t have a preference. What I did was research this story that Rajini brought up, and found that apparently algae doesn’t seem to be the cause, in the end. According to people in the know, which is not me.

    Which is why I redirected your argument directed towards me.

  36. Jose Jonez says:

    Wait, so the water went from clear blue on the 8th (left pic), to black on the 9th (right pic)?

  37. Rajini Rao says:

    G.I. José  yes. The one on the right is actually dark green.

  38. Jose Jonez says:

    Wow, that’s crazy!

  39. Rajini Rao says:

    Hah, yes! That’s why there is a big buzz about this. A second pool has turned green.

  40. Aren’t olympic pools supposed to use Ozone instead of Chlorine ?

  41. Daniela Huguet Taylor hiiii

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    UPDATE: After athletes complaints of burning, itchy eyes & foul odors filling the building, the diving pool that recently turned green with algae, has been closed. http://goo.gl/mfCmFI

    Most common hypothesis (e.g. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/08/green-pool-rio-olympics-algae-chlorine) is still algae, with speculation that officials are not releasing cause because of negative impact.

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  44. That’s not good!!!😯😯😯

  45. It might be dangerous..😷😷

  46. Farhan Ahmad says:

    Olympic is my favorite play

  47. I wondered where you had gone, Rajini Rao​​, not seen much in the way of posts from you recently.

    As to the cause – Olympic officials are now saying that 80 litres of hydrogen peroxide were added to the pools by an independent contractor, without permission. This allowed for an algae bloom because the hydrogen peroxide neutralized the chlorine in the pools. It took effect much more quickly in the diving pool because it’s much smaller.

  48. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks for that update, Cod Codliness.  I’m still laughing at the excuse from a Rio official: “Chemistry is not an exact science” to which someone tweeted back, “I tried that excuse in freshman Chemistry and got a B-” 🙂

    I’ve had an insanely busy year at work and promised not to overextend myself again. So I hope to get back to G+ and writing more for fun. Good to hear from you.

  49. The reasons why the pool water turns green are various. The most common ones are: incorrect setting of filtration times, system’s wrong sizing, lack of checks and chemicals.

    I would say the best thing is to carry out a thorough analysis of the water to understand what is the real reason. Subsequently you can intervene correctly. Without analysis you can do very little.

    Always glad to read your posts Rajini Rao. ☺

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  51. Rajini Rao says:

    It’s official: “Algae confirmed as culprit in Rio green pool saga”. From our standpoint, isn’t it amazing how quickly microorganisms can take over? The scientific term is blooming. #respect  


    Nicknamed Sin Daniela Huguet Taylor 

  52. Rajini Rao life sure is hardy!

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  55. Sorry this is not related to this post. I have now a basic understanding of protein synthesis. I was taught that the whole body is made of cells; if this is true where do the proteins reside?

  56. can you dedicate a post to the my question above?

  57. Rajini Rao says:

    prabhat parimal proteins reside inside cells. A good high school biology text book is a good place to start understanding terms like proteins, cells, DNA, RNA, organs, etc. and how they relate to one another.

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    Nice jump but too risky……😨😨😨😨

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