For swimming pools, it is generally agreed that free chlorine levels have to be maintained to guarantee adequate disinfection. Recommended free chlorine levels can vary between 0.3 and 0.6mg/L in Germany and up to 3mg/L in other countries. Bathers introduce considerable amounts of organic matter, mainly in the form of such as urine and sweat, into the pool water. As a consequence, disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are formed. Regulations in Germany recommend levels of combined chlorine of less than 0.2mg/L and levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) of less than 20μg/L. Haloacetic acids (HAAs), haloacetonitriles (HANs), chloropicrin and chloral hydrate are also detected in considerable amounts. However, these compounds are not regulated yet. Swimming pool staff and swimmers, especially athletes, are primarily exposed to these byproducts by inhalation and/or dermal uptake. In Germany, new regulations for swimming pool water treatment generally require the use of activated carbon. In this project, three different types of granular activated carbon (GAC) (one standard GAC, two catalytic GACs) are compared for their long time behaviour in pool water treatment. In a pilot plant operated with real swimming pool water, production and removal of disinfection byproducts (THMs, HAAs, AOXs), of biodegradable substances (AOC), of bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Legionella, coliforms, HPC) as well as the removal of chlorine and chloramines are monitored as function of GAC bed depth. Combined chlorine penetrates deeper in the filter bed than free chlorine does. However, both, free and combined chlorine removal efficiencies decrease over the time of filter operation. The decreases of removal efficiencies are also observed for parameters such as dissolved organic carbon, spectral absorption coefficient, adsorbable organic carbon and most of the disinfection byproducts. However, THMs, especially chloroform are produced in the filter bed. The GAC beds were contaminated microbially, especially with P. aeruginosa. The contamination was not removable by backwashing with chlorine concentrations up to 2mg/l free chlorine.

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