Chemical contaminants in swimming pools: Occurrence, implications and control

Tiffany L.L. Teo, Heather Coleman, Stuart J. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


A range of trace chemical contaminants have been reported to occur in swimming pools. Current disinfection practices and monitoring of swimming pool water quality are aimed at preventing the spread of microbial infections and diseases. However, disinfection by-products (DBPs) are formed when the disinfectants used react with organic and inorganic matter in the pool. Additional chemicals may be present in swimming pools originating from anthropogenic sources (bodily excretions, lotions, cosmetics, etc.) or from the source water used where trace chemicals may already be present. DBPs have been the most widely investigated trace chemical contaminants, including trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), halobenzoquinones (HBQs), haloacetonitriles (HANs), halonitromethanes (HNMs), N-nitrosamines, nitrite, nitrates and chloramines. The presence and concentrations of these chemical contaminants are dependent upon several factors including the types of pools, types of disinfectants used, disinfectant dosages, bather loads, temperature and pH of swimming pool waters. Chemical constituents of personal care products (PCPs) such as parabens and ultraviolet (UV) filters from sunscreens have also been reported. By-products from reactions of these chemicals with disinfectants and UV irradiation have been reported and some may be more toxic than their parent compounds. There is evidence to suggest that exposure to some of these chemicals may lead to health risks. This paper provides a detailed review of various chemical contaminants reported in swimming pools. The concentrations of chemicals present in swimming pools may also provide an alternative indicator to swimming pool water quality, providing insights to contamination sources. Alternative treatment methods such as activated carbon filtration and advanced oxidation processes may be beneficial in improving swimming pool water quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-31
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date11 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 19 Mar 2015


  • Chlorination
  • Disinfection by-products
  • Parabens
  • Sunscreen agents
  • UV filters
  • Swimming pool water treatment


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