Disinfection Byproducts Resulting from Swimming Pool Chlorination
It is a common assumption that swimming is a healthy physical activity. In fact, in the United States, swimming has become the second most popular recreational activity after walking (Olsen, 2007). Swimming has become so popular in large part due to modern advancements in the disinfection of water; public swimming pools could not have been so enjoyed prior to the early 1900s, however, due to the tens of thousands of people dying from waterborne illnesses (Rivera, 2009). It was during this time that the disinfection of water, both for drinking and recreational swimming, became a prevalent factor in ensuring human health. This advancement in water quality was well received for most of the 20th century, and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention went on to proclaim it as one of the ten greatest health advancements of the 20th century (Olsen, 2007; Rivera, 2009).
Despite the overall success related to pool water’s disinfection through the use of chlorine and other similar chemicals, recent studies have questioned its benefits. In the year 1974, scientist first discovered that the halogens used to disinfect water could combine with organic materials in the water and form disinfection byproducts (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs), and chloroform (Olsen, 2007). Naturally, scientist quickly began to look into the prospect of DBPs and their effects on human health. Thus far, scientists have attempted to compile a comprehensive list of DBPs that may occur within chlorinated pool water and to determine which detection methods are most accurate (Richardson et al., 2010). Another area of extensive research relates to the health effects that DBPs have on humans both from long term and short term exposure (Zwiener, 2007).
Why Water Requires Disinfection
Substances that contaminate pool water are being introduced into it every day, and without proper chemical and filtration techniques the water will become overly contaminated (De Haan et al., 1997). Contaminated water can be a serious cause of disease as it may contain a vast range of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and algae (De Hann, 1997). In order to prevent these contaminants from infecting swimmers, various methods of disinfection such as chlorination and filtration must be applied. Using chlorine, the most common disinfectant used in pools, to disinfect pool water serves to both oxidize and sanitize the water (De Hann et al., 1997; Li et al., 2007). This means that the chlorine both removes impurities not caught by filtration and it destroys the organisms in the water. The end result is cleaner water with far fewer harmful organisms or contaminants that are introduced by both bathers and naturally by the environment (Zwiener, 2007).
Pool water chemistry is determined by many contributing factors that must work together in order to create a united system that...