Genotoxicity of water concentrates from recreational pools after various disinfection methods

Danae Liviac, Elizabeth D. Wagner, William A. Mitch, Matthew J. Altonji, Michael J. Plewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Swimming and hot tub bathing are popular exercises and diversions. Disinfection of recreational pools is essential to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease. Recent research demonstrated an association between the application of disinfectants to recreational pools and adverse health outcomes. These pool waters represent extreme cases of disinfection that differ from disinfecting drinking waters. Pool waters are continuously exposed to disinfectants over average residence times extending to months. Disinfection byproduct (DBP) precursors include natural humic substances plus inputs from bathers through urine, sweat, hair, skin, and consumer products including cosmetics and sunscreens. This study presents a systematic mammalian cell genotoxicity analysis to evaluate different recreational waters derived from a common tap water source. The data demonstrated that all disinfected recreational pool water samples induced more genomic DNA damage than the source tap water. The type of disinfectant and illumination conditions altered the genotoxicity of the water. Accordingly, care should be taken in the disinfectant employed to treat recreational pool waters. The genotoxicity data suggest that brominating agents should be avoided. Combining chlorine with UV may be beneficial as compared to chlorination alone. During the recycling of pool water the organic carbon could be removed prior to disinfection. Behavior modification by swimmers may be critical in reducing the genotoxicity of pool water. Actions such as showering before entering the water and informing patrons about the potential harm from urinating in a pool could reduce the precursors of toxic DBPs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3527-3532
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2010
Externally publishedYes


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