Archive for the ‘Air Quality’ Category
Regions Hospital, St. Paul, MN, is the first hospital in Minnesota to use Sphagnum moss to treat the water in its therapy pool. The moss treatment system is part of HealthPartners Health Goals 2014. Read more
By Vance D. Fiegel, CWS Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
We have all walked into a swimming pool facility, health club, or small motel and immediately recognized that “chlorine” smell emanating from the pool. We have grown to accept the odor and the other side effects of chlorine disinfection as the price paid to have a sanitary swimming pool. The odor and many of these side effects are not actually caused by the chlorine, but are the by-products of chlorine disinfection. Chlorine and bromine are common aquatic system disinfectants and are very effective at killing bacteria. They, and their halogen brothers fluorine and iodine, are all effective sanitizers because they are strong oxidizers (oxidation is the way bacteria is killed). Halogens, like chlorine, are all one electron short of filling their outer electron shell. They are always looking for another compound from which to steal an electron (oxidize). However, their oxidative power is not limited to just attacking bacteria.
Disinfection by-products (DBP) are formed when chlorine oxidizes organic compounds. These organic compounds are found in bacteria and many are critical for the bacteria to live and thrive. However, a lot of organic compounds are naturally present in our water, and putting people into the water introduces even more of these materials (dead skin cells, sweat, urine, etc). When chlorine interacts and oxidizes these organic compounds, it results in a tremendous amount of newly created compounds…but, these now contain chlorine (DBP). We generally classify some of these as combined chlorine or chloramines. It has now been established that many of these DBP are toxic, and while most remain in the water, some are quite volatile and released from the water into the air (i.e. chloroform). These DBP are what we recognize as that “chlorine” smell.
In short, chlorine is going to cause a reaction with anything in its path, and some of these reactions are going be toxic. So, that funky “pool smell” isn’t the chlorine. It’s the dark side of chlorine’s work.
Research at Embro Corporation (Creative Water Solutions’ sister company) is actively investigating the process by which DBP are formed, and the levels of DBP in swimming pools and spas. Our early results have demonstrated that Sphagnum moss leads to a reduction in DBP levels within the first few months of use in a swimming pool. Pointing to the importance of this research are the increasing numbers of scientific articles documenting production of toxic DBP in aquatic systems. They illustrate increased health problems for those experiencing high exposure to these compounds, including competitive and avid recreational swimmers. Stay tuned to our newsletter and website for the newest results of our research in this area.
Additional evidence of the unhealthy properties of chorine disinfection by-products in swimming pools.
By Vance Fiegel, Chief Scientific Officer
The publication of a recent article in the February, 2012 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology adds to the evidence, and increasing concern, of the unhealthy effects of exposure to disinfection by-products (DBP) in swimming pools. The article, entitled “Airway remodeling and inflammation in competitive swimmers training in indoor chlorinated swimming pools” by Bougault et al provides evidence that intense, long term training in indoor chlorinated swimming pools leads to airway changes similar to those seen in asthma.
The study examined 23 competitive swimmers, age 17 and up. The swimmers were evaluated during a period of rest, at least 3 days after their last competition or strenuous training workout. The evaluation tests included standard lung capacity testing, allergy testing, and bronchoscopy with biopsy collection for pathological evaluation.
The findings of the study demonstrated inflammatory and airway remodeling changes in bronchial biopsies of competing swimmers similar to non-athletes with mild asthma. In fact, some of the measured inflammatory parameters were greater than that seen in asthmatic subjects. A majority of the swimmers had atopy (allergic hyperresponsiveness), an important point according to the authors, “as a recent hypothesis stated that atopy may develop in swimmers because of an increasing exposure to chlorination products.”
Whether recreational swimmers and children will develop these changes remains to be determined. However, according to the authors, “reduction of chloramine exposure in pool environments should be considered.”
Airway remodeling and inflammation in competitive swimmers training in indoor chlorinated swimming pools. Bougault, V, Loubaki L, Joubert, P et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2012; Vol. 129(2):351-358
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