Disinfection Byproducts at Indoor Swimming Pools
A study published in January by Quebec-based research organization IRSST assesses worker exposure to disinfection byproducts at indoor swimming pools in the province. Chlorination disinfection byproducts (DBPs), which result from chemical reactions between chlorine added to pool water and organic or nitrogenous matter that is naturally present or introduced by swimmers, have potentially serious toxic properties even in low quantities. Researchers documented environmental contamination levels in the water and air at swimming pools, and biological contamination in workers’ urine and exhaled air. The study examined exposures to three “traditional” DBP compounds: trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), and chloramines (CAMs), as well as additional “emerging” DBPs. Exposure to CAMs can result in ocular and respiratory irritation, and some studies have demonstrated a possible link to the emergence of allergies and asthma in young people. THM and HAA exposures in domestic settings have established possible links to bladder cancer and reprotoxic effects. Information from the study appears below.
From “Assessment of Worker Exposure to Disinfection Byproducts at Indoor Swimming Pools in Québec”: “[F]unctional, unobstructed and effective ventilation of swimming pools to exhaust volatile contaminants, as well as vigilant and regular upkeep of the various water treatment devices (e.g., filters), or more regular water renewal in larger volumes are to be encouraged. Emptying swimming pools, which is not common practice, would undoubtedly be beneficial for the facilities in terms of health, and even more so because changing the water could have a positive impact.”
From statement of former CSB chair Rafael Moure-Eraso, Sep. 15, 2014: “There are safer alternative ways to demonstrate the same scientific phenomena, and many teachers are already using them. Any use of methanol or other flammables should be either avoided completely or restricted to minimal amounts, which have been safely dispensed at remote locations. Bulk containers of flammable liquids must never be positioned or handled near viewing audiences, especially when there are potential ignition sources present.”
Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
Ed Rutkowski, editor