By Sahil Rawal (’19)
Swimming pools are known to contain many disinfectant products such as chlorine to keep the water safe to swim in. However, studies have recently found that these disinfectants release byproducts that could eventually react with organic matter already present in the water, such as human urine or sweat. These released byproducts have already been found to cause cases of asthma and cancer in some swimmers.
Eric J. Daiber and his team of researchers have recently found that these disinfectant byproducts do more than just cause asthma. They studied water samples from indoor and outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs that used products like chlorine or bromine as disinfectants. These privately and publicly owned properties heavily used these disinfectant products. Researchers collected water from these properties at heavily used teams, i.e. after a swim meet, and clean times, i.e. when the water had been changed within 24 hours. The samples were then studied using techniques such as mass spectroscopy, and the results were quantified using linear regression models for the samples. The study concluded that spas had more disinfectant byproducts than pools because of the higher temperatures, and chlorinated spas are actually 1.5 times more mutagenic than chlorinated pools. When they compared the clean and heavily used pools water samples, the results showed that the heavily used pools had more human byproducts, which created more disinfectant byproducts.
Overall, the researchers concluded that people should frequently clean pools and spas in order to decrease the transfer of these disinfectant byproducts and thereby reduced any negative health effects caused by them.
- J. Daiber et al., Progressive increase in disinfection byproducts and mutagenicity from source to tap to swimming pool and spa water: impact of human inputs. Environmental Science & Technology (2016), doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00808.
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