What's In Your Swimming Pool Water?

Summer is in full swing, and as the temperatures rise, you are, of course, looking for ways to beat the heat. Swimming is one of the best ways to cool off; there's nothing as refreshing as that first jump into cold pool water!

indoors swimming pool

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States, and in 2009, there were approximately 301 million swimming pool visits each year by persons over the age of six. That’s a lot of pool time! And a lot of exposure to pool water that may not be as safe as we think.

There is an assumption that common chemicals like chlorine clean out anything unwanted in the pool water, and this is true to an extent. The chlorine disinfectant and others work to protect swimmers from pathogens and prevent waterborne illness. Yet these disinfectants also react with naturally occurring organic matter in water and the chemicals introduced to the water by the swimmers themselves (think sunscreens, lotions, etc), and these then produce byproducts that can be potentially harmful, termed disinfection byproducts (DBP’s). Epidemiologic studies show that DBP’s can increase the risk of asthma and bladder cancer in elite swimmers who spend large amounts of time in pools.

Because of these chemical reactions, swimming pools and hot tubs are one of the most rich and highly complex samples to tackle by mass spectrometry. In her work, Dr. Susan D. Richardson of the University of South Carolina has employed high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (the Pegasus GC-HRT+) to expose these DBP’s and identify true unknowns. High-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry has the power to reveal these commonly unknown chemicals due to its high sensitivity and accurate mass information for molecular ions and fragments.

Interested in her results? Check out Dr. Richardson’s findings presented below. In each presentation she discusses how High Resolution MS and GCxGC HR-TOFMS were able to successfully identify unknowns in swimming pool water.

To Swim or Not to Swim: That is the Question…Using High Resolution MS to Uncover Unknown Chemicals and Disinfection Byproducts in Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs

 Susan 1

In addition, GCxGC also plays a role in the identification of unknown chemicals. To take her research one-step further, Dr. Richardson used GCxGC HR-TOFMS analysis (the Pegasus GC-HRT+ 4D) to uncover even MORE disinfection byproducts in hot tub and swimming pool waters. Watch the presentation below:

To Swim or Not to Swim, Part II: Using High Resolution MS and GCxGC to Uncover Even MORE Unknown Chemicals  

Susan 2

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