Abstract

While disinfection of swimming pools is indispensable for microbiological safety, it may lead to the formation of disinfection by-products. Most studies agree that inhalation exposure is the predominant pathway of the associated health risks, but assumptions are based on concentrations measured in water and evaporation models. Pool water and air were sampled in 19 swimming pools. Trihalomethanes were detected in all sites; chloroform being the most abundant species. Concentrations ranged between 12.8–71.2 μg/L and 11.1–102.2 μg/m3 in pool water and air, respectively. The individual lifetime carcinogenic risk associated with chloroform in swimming pools exceeded 10−6 in all age groups for recreational swimmers and 10−5 for elite swimmers and staff, even if the pool complied with the national standards. Inhalation exposure was estimated and found to be the most relevant, however, different mass transfer models from water measurements significantly under- or overestimated the health burden compared to direct calculation from the concentration in air. The observed health risks call for defining regulatory values and monitoring requirement of indoor air quality in swimming pools.

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