Assessing microbial and chemical exposure risks of Giardia in indoor swimming pool water disinfected by chlorine

Shengkun Dong , Chenyue Yin , Bingjun Liu , Kyu Hur , Carsten Prasse , Xin Yang , Chao Chen , Bin Xu , Xing-Fang Li


Received February 28, 2022,Revised , Accepted May 06, 2022, Available online May 20, 2022

Volume 34,2022,Pages 276-284

Swimming pools adopt chlorination to ensure microbial safety. Giardia has attracted attention in swimming pool water because of its occurrence, pathogenicity, and chlorine resistance. To control Giardia concentrations in pool water and reduce the microbial risk, higher chlorine doses are required during disinfection. Unfortunately, this process produces carcinogenic disinfection byproducts that increase the risk of chemical exposure. Therefore, quantitatively evaluating the comparative microbial vs. chemical exposure risks that stem from chlorination inactivation of Giardia in swimming pool water is an issue that demands attention. We simulated an indoor swimming pool disinfection scenario that followed common real-world disinfection practices. A quantitative microbial risk assessment coupled with a chemical exposure risk assessment was employed to compare the Giardia microbial exposure risk (MER) and the trihalomethane chemical exposure risk (CER) to humans. The results demonstrated a 22% decrease in MER- and CER-induced health exposure risk, from 8.45E-5 at 8:00 to 6.60E-5 at 19:00. Both the MER and CER decreased gradually, dropping to 3.26E-5 and 3.35E-5 at 19:00, respectively. However, the CER exceeded the MER after 18:30 and became the dominant factor affecting the total exposure risk. Past the 18 hr mark, the contribution of trihalomethane CER far exceeded the risk aversion from microbial inactivation, leading to a net increase in total exposure risk despite the declining MER. Swimmers may consider swimming after 19:00, when the total exposure risk is the lowest. Lowering water temperature and/or pH were identified as the most sensitive factors to minimize the overall health exposure risk.

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