Occurrence and formation of disinfection by-products in the swimming pool environment: A critical review
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Disinfection of water for human use is essential to protect against microbial disease; however, disinfection also leads to formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs), some of which are of health concern. From a chemical perspective, swimming pools are a complex matrix, with continual addition of a wide range of natural and anthropogenic chemicals via filling waters, disinfectant addition, pharmaceuticals and personal care products and human body excretions. Natural organic matter, trace amounts of DBPs and chlorine or chloramines may be introduced by the filling water, which is commonly disinfected distributed drinking water. Chlorine and/or bromine is continually introduced via the addition of chemical disinfectants to the pool. Human body excretions (sweat, urine and saliva) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (sunscreens, cosmetics, hair products and lotions) are introduced by swimmers. High addition of disinfectant leads to a high formation of DBPs from reaction of some of the chemicals with the disinfectant. Swimming pool air is also of concern as volatile DBPs partition into the air above the pool. The presence of bromine leads to the formation of a wide range of bromo- and bromo/chloro-DBPs, and Br-DBPs are more toxic than their chlorinated analogues. This is particularly important for seawater-filled pools or pools using a bromine-based disinfectant. This review summarises chemical contaminants and DBPs in swimming pool waters, as well as in the air above pools. Factors that have been found to affect DBP formation in pools are discussed. The impact of the swimming pool environment on human health is reviewed.
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