Dsinfection By-Products in Indoor Swimming Pool Air and Water, Canada

Tardif R, Catto C, Haddad S, Simard S, Rodriguez M. Assessment of air and water contamination by disinfection by-products at 41 indoor swimming pools. Environmental Research. 2016 Apr 28;148:411-420. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.04.011.

This study was aimed at assessing the profiles (occurrence and speciation) of disinfection by-product (DBP) contamination in air and water of a group of 41 public indoor swimming pools in Québec (Canada). The contaminants measured in the water included the traditional DBPs [i.e., four trihalomethanes (THMs), six haloacetic acids (HAAs)] but also several emergent DBPs [i.e., halonitriles, halonitromethanes, haloketones and nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)]. Those measured in the air comprised THMs and chloramines (CAMs). Overall, extremely variable DBP levels were found from one pool to another (both quantitatively and in terms of speciation). For instance, in water, among the four THMs, chloroform was usually the most abundant compound (37.9±25.7µg/L). Nevertheless, the sum of the three other brominated THMs represented more than 25% of total THMs at almost half the facilities visited (19 cases). In 13 of them, the levels of brominated THMs (66±24.2µg/L) even greatly outweighed the levels of chloroform (15.2±6.31µg/L). Much higher levels of HAAs (294.8±157.6µg/L) were observed, with a consistent preponderance of brominated HAAs in the swimming pools with more brominated THMs. NDMA levels which were measured in a subset of 8 pools ranged between 2.8ng/L and 105ng/L. With respect to air, chloroform was still the most abundant THM globally (119.4±74.2µg/m3) but significant levels of brominated THMs were also observed in various cases, particularly in the previously evoked group of 13 swimming pools with preponderant levels of brominated THMs in water. CAM levels (0.23±0.15mg/m3) varied highly, ranging from not detected to 0.56mg/m3. Overall, the levels were generally relatively high compared to current guidelines or reference values from several countries, and they point to a relatively atypical presence of brominated compounds, and to significant levels of emergent DBPs for which health risk is less documented.

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