Disinfection byproducts in chlorinated or brominated swimming pools and spas: Role of brominated DBPs and association with mutagenicity

David M. DeMarini , Hannah K. Liberatore , Eric J. Daiber , Sridevi A. Ravuri , Judith E. Schmid , Susan D. Richardson , Carsten Prasse , Xin Yang , Chao Chen , Bin Xu , Xing-Fang Li


Received March 08, 2022,Revised , Accepted April 28, 2022, Available online May 09, 2022

Volume 34,2022,Pages 253-263

Although the health benefits of swimming are well-documented, health effects such as asthma and bladder cancer are linked to disinfection by-products (DBPs) in pool water. DBPs are formed from the reaction of disinfectants such as chlorine (Cl) or bromine (Br) with organics in the water. Our previous study (Daiber et al., Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 6652; 2016) found correlations between the concentrations of classes of DBPs and the mutagenic potencies of waters from chlorinated or brominated swimming pools and spas. We extended this study by identifying significantly different concentrations of 21 individual DBPs in brominated or chlorinated pool and spa waters as well as identifying which DBPs and additional DBP classes were most associated with the mutagenicity of these waters. Using data from our previous study, we found that among 21 DBPs analyzed in 21 pool and spa waters, the concentration of bromoacetic acid was significantly higher in Br-waters versus Cl-waters, whereas the concentration of trichloroacetic acid was significantly higher in Cl-waters. Five Br-DBPs (tribromomethane, dibromochloroacetic acid, dibromoacetonitrile, bromoacetic acid, and tribromoacetic acid) had significantly higher concentrations in Br-spa versus Cl-spa waters. Cl-pools had significantly higher concentrations of Cl-DBPs (trichloroacetaldehyde, trichloromethane, dichloroacetic acid, and chloroacetic acid), whereas Br-pools had significantly higher concentrations of Br-DBPs (tribromomethane, dibromoacetic acid, dibromoacetonitrile, and tribromoacetic acid). The concentrations of the sum of all 4 trihalomethanes, all 11 Br-DBPs, and all 5 nitrogen-containing DBPs were each significantly higher in brominated than in chlorinated pools and spas. The 8 Br-DBPs were the only DBPs whose individual concentrations were significantly correlated with the mutagenic potencies of the pool and spa waters. These results, along with those from our earlier study, highlight the importance of Br-DBPs in the mutagenicity of these recreational waters.

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