URBANA, Ill., July 23 (UPI) -- Negative health outcomes can occur when disinfection byproducts form reactions with organic matter in swimming pool water, U.S. researchers suggest.
Michael Plewa of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, says pools require disinfection to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease, but the disinfectants may increase risk of asthma and bladder cancer.
"All sources of water possess organic matter that comes from decaying leaves, microbes and other dead life forms," Plewa says in a statement. "In addition to organic matter and disinfectants, pool waters contain sweat, hair, skin, urine, and consumer products such as cosmetics and sunscreens from swimmers."
These byproducts are often nitrogen-rich and may contribute to the generation of nitrogenous disinfection byproducts and when mixed with disinfectants, these byproducts may become chemically modified and converted into more toxic agents, Plewa says.
These disinfection byproducts can mutate genes, induce birth defects, accelerate the aging process, cause respiratory ailments, and even induce cancer after long-term exposures, the study says.
The researchers compared different disinfection methods. The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, found all disinfected pool samples exhibited more genomic DNA damage than source tap water.
"The best method to treat pool waters is a combination of UV treatment with chlorine as compared to chlorination alone," Plewa says.
Having swimmers shower and banning urination in the pool is also important, Plewa says.