Disinfection Byproducts Resulting from Swimming Pool Chlorination
Swimming is commonly associated as a healthy physical activity providing excellent exercise to patrons. In fact, in the United States, swimming has become the second most popular recreational activity after walking (Olsen, 2007). Swimming has become so popular due to modern advancements in the disinfection of water; public swimming pools were never so enjoyed prior to the early 1900s, however, due to thousands of people dying from waterborne illnesses (Rivera, 2009). During this time, the disinfection of water, both for drinking and swimming, became a prevalent factor in ensuring human health. This advancement in water quality was well received for most of the 20th century. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) went on to proclaim this advancement 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 chlorine use, recent studies have questioned its benefits. In 1974, scientists first discovered that the halogens used to disinfect water could combine with organic materials and form disinfection byproducts (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs), and chloroform (Olsen, 2007). Naturally, researchers quickly began to investigate the possibilities 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 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, et al., 2007). Thus far, certain DBPs have been shown to be carcinogenic, and to cause respiratory problems in swimmers including asthma is children (Zwiener, et al., 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 & Johanningsmeier, 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 & Johanningsmeier, 1997). In order to prevent these contaminants from infecting swimmers, various methods of disinfection such as chlorination and filtration must be applied. The use of chlorine, the most common disinfectant used for pool water, to disinfect pool water serves to both oxidize and sanitize the water (De Hann & Johanningsmeier, 1997; Li et al., 2007). This means that the chlorine both removes impurities not caught by filtration and the chlorine 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...