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Published on Sep 10, 2015
Pool operators and those lucky enough to have their own pool may hear complaints about stinging eyes, nasal irritation or difficulty breathing from people after being in the water or breathing the air near a swimming pool. This can be especially true at indoor pools.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new research indicates that these symptoms may be an indication of poor water and indoor air quality (IAQ) caused by a build-up of irritants, known as chloramines, in the water and air. Chloramines are formed by the reaction of free chlorine with organic substances.
The CDC reports that irritants in the air at swimming pools are usually the combined chlorine by-products of disinfection. These by-products are the result of chlorine binding with sweat, urine and other waste from swimmers. As the concentration of these by-products in the water increases, they also move into the surrounding air.
Breathing this air when it has elevated levels of these chemical irritants can cause a variety of health issues that range from mild symptoms, such as coughing, to more severe reactions that may include wheezing or aggravating asthma. The CDC also states that routine breathing of irritants may increase sensitivity to other types of irritants such as fungi and bacteria.
Poor air turnover can allow chloramines to build up at indoor pool facilities. Without adequate fresh air, the recycled air flowing over the pool becomes saturated with chlorination by-products so that it can no longer absorb or pick up new by-products coming from the pool water. This can allow irritants to reach unhealthy levels.
The CDC suggests that these indoor air quality issues can be fixed through a combination of preventive measures. These include improving air movement over the pool and increasing the air turnover rate with adequate fresh air. Good personal hygiene is also needed. Swimmers should shower before getting in the pool and restrooms need to be utilized.
These are just a few things to know about chloramines, indoor pools and air quality concerns. To learn more about this or other environmental, health and safety, occupational, indoor air quality or property damage issues, please visit the websites shown below.