IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Development of Strategies to Control Contamination Caused by Disinfection Byproducts in Swimming Pools


The presence of disinfection byproducts in the water and air of indoor swimming pools is a public health and occupational health concern. ExposThe general research objective was to improve knowledge of management and monitoring practices for disinfection byproducts in indoor aquatic environments. More specifically, it aimed to evaluate the impact of various management strategies on contamination levels.

ure to disinfection byproducts, particularly trichloramine, is associated with a number of harmful effects, including respiratory tract irritation, eye irritation and bronchial hyperreactivity. Disinfection byproducts are the result of chemical reactions between the disinfectants added and organic or nitrogenous matter naturally present in the water or introduced by swimmers.

Members of the research team wrote five scientific articles that were published in peer-reviewed journals. These articles discuss the management and metrology of disinfection byproducts in the air and water of swimming pools, as well as the impact of various ventilation strategies for managing air contamination at swimming pools. The analyses led to several recommendations regarding disinfection byproduct management to control occupational exposure to these contaminants.

The research demonstrated that measurement methods for assessing occupational exposure are available. A permissible exposure value for air at swimming pools must be established. The government of Québec could draw inspiration from British Columbia, which has established a permissible exposure value of 0.3 mg/m³ over eight hours for trichloramine.

Swimming pool managers should aim to achieve the total air flow rates recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) (8 air changes per hour) to dilute the trichloramine that tends to accumulate on the surface of the water and the deck (around the pool), where air velocities are kept low to limit water evaporation and maintain an acceptable thermal comfort level for swimmers.

A tool to estimate trichloramine levels in swimming pool air is necessary and should be the subject of future research. It would consider the significant factors for trichloramine generation (water temperature, swimmer numbers, swimming activities), as well as the factors associated with the fate of contaminants in the environment (volume of the indoor environment, pool dimensions, ventilation rate, ventilation strategy).

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
  • Maximilien Debia
  • Elham Ahmadpour
  • Isabelle Valois
  • Sami Haddad
  • Robert Tardif
  • Stéphane Hallé
  • Hélène Proulx
  • Manuel Rodriguez
  • François Proulx
  • Ianis Delpla
  • Jean Sérodes
  • Sabrina Simard
Research Project: 2015-0010
Online since: October 05, 2023
Format: Text