DBPs in swimming pool water

Swimming in pools is per se a healthy activity. Disinfection is mandatory for public pools, but also produces a variety of disinfection byproducts such as trihalomethanes (THMs) or trichloramine (NCl3). THMs are regulated carcinogenic DBPs in drinking water that have been detected in the blood and breath of swimmers and of non-swimmers in indoor pools. Trichloramine is linked with swimming pool-associated asthma. To preserve the positive health effects of swimming requires reducing the potential adverse health risks by pathogens and DBPs. This can be achieved by engineering and behavioral means, such as applying new oxidation and filtration methods, reducing bromide and iodide in the source water, increasing air circulation in indoor pools, and assuring the cleanliness of swimmers.

Recent publications:

  • Font-Ribera, L., Marco, E., Grimalt, J.O., Pastor, S., Marcos, R., Abramsson-Zetterberg, L., Pedersen, M., Grummt, T., Junek, R., Barreiro, E., Heederik, D., Spithoven, J., Critelli, R., Naccarati, A., Schmalz, C., Zwiener, C., Liu, J., Zhang, X., Mitch, W., Gracia-Lavedan, E., Arjona, L., de Bont, J., Tarès, L., Vineis, P., Kogevinas, M. and Villanueva, C.M. (2019) Exposure to disinfection by-products in swimming pools and biomarkers of genotoxicity and respiratory damage – The PISCINA2 Study. Environment International 131, 104988.
  • van Veldhoven, K., Keski-Rahkonen, P., Barupal, D.K., Villanueva, C.M., Font-Ribera, L., Scalbert, A., Bodinier, B., Grimalt, J.O., Zwiener, C., Vlaanderen, J., Portengen, L., Vermeulen, R., Vineis, P., Chadeau-Hyam, M. and Kogevinas, M. (2018) Effects of exposure to water disinfection by-products in a swimming pool: A metabolome-wide association study. Environment International 111, 60-70.
  • Font-Ribera, L., Kogevinas, M., Schmalz, C., Zwiener, C., Marco, E., Grimalt, J.O., Liu, J., Zhang, X., Mitch, W., Critelli, R., Naccarati, A., Heederik, D., Spithoven, J., Arjona, L., de Bont, J., Gracia-Lavedan, E. and Villanueva, C.M. (2016) Environmental and personal determinants of the uptake of disinfection by-products during swimming. Environmental Research 149, 206-215.
  • Yang, L., Schmalz, C., Zhou, J., Zwiener, C., Chang, V.W.C., Ge, L. and Wan, M.P. (2016) An insight of disinfection by-product (DBP) formation by alternative disinfectants for swimming pool disinfection under tropical conditions. Water Research 101, 535-546.


Trichloramine measurement in indoor pool environments by ion mobility spectrometry for air quality control (Innovation Grant of Univ. Tübingen; C. Schmalz; 2013 - 2014)

Health-related optimization of swimming pool water treatment – Measurement of the exposure in indoor pools with volatile disinfection by-products by instrumental analysis methods and sensors (BMBF 02WT1090; 2010 - 2012)

Formation of disinfection by-products in swimming pools – risk identification for humans (BMBF 02WU0648; 2006 - 2009)

Health and treatment related swimming pool water safety – Minimization of disinfection by-products considering chemical aspects and new treatment technologies (BMBF 02WT0001; 2000 - 2003)


  • Grummt, T. and Zwiener, C. (2011) Aktuelle Aspekte der Schwimmbeckenwasserhygiene – Pool Water Chemistry and Health. Bundesgesundheitsblatt 54, 136-141.  
  • Kluepfel, A.M., Glauner, T., Zwiener, C. and Frimmel, F.H. (2011) Nanofiltration for enhanced removal of disinfection by-product (DBP) precursors in swimming pool water-retention and water quality estimation. Water Science and Technology 63(8), 1716-1725.   10.2166/wst.2011.213
  • Schmalz, C., Frimmel, F.H. and Zwiener, C. (2011) Trichloramine in swimming pools – Formation and mass transfer. Water Research 45(8), 2681-2690.  
  • Schmalz, C., Wunderlich, H.G., Heinze, R., Frimmel, F.H. and Zwiener, C. (2011) Application of an optimized system for the well-defined exposure of human lung cells to trichloramine and indoor pool air. Journal of Water and Health 9(3), 586-596.  
  • Zwiener, C., Richardson, S.D., De Marini, D.M., Grummt, T., Glauner, T. and Frimmel, F.H. (2007) Drowning in Disinfection Byproducts? Assessing Swimming Pool Water. Environmental Science and Technology 41(2), 363-372.
  • Glauner, T., Kunz, F., Zwiener, C. and Frimmel, F.H. (2005) Elimination of swimming pool water disinfection by-products with advanced oxidation processes (AOPs). Acta Hydrochimica et Hydrobiologica 33(6), 585-594.   10.1002/aheh.200400605
  • Glauner, T., Waldmann, P., Frimmel, F.H. and Zwiener, C. (2005) Swimming pool water - fractionation and genotoxicological characterization of organic constituents. Water Research 39(18), 4494-4502.   10.1016/j.watres.2005.09.005
  • Zwiener, C. and Richardson, S.D. (2005) Analysis of disinfection by-products in drinking water by LC-MS and related MS techniques. Trac-Trends in Analytical Chemistry 24(7), 613-621.   10.1016/j.trac.2005.03.014