Occupational asthma caused by chloramines in indoor swimming-pool air

Eur Respir J. 2002 May;19(5):827-32. doi: 10.1183/09031936.02.00232802.


The first series of three workers who developed occupational asthma following exposure to airborne chloramines in indoor chlorinated swimming pools is reported. Health problems of swimmers in indoor pools have traditionally been attributed to the chlorine in the water. Chlorine reacts with bodily proteins to form chloramines; the most volatile and prevalent in the air above swimming pools is nitrogen trichloride. Two lifeguards and one swimming teacher with symptoms suggestive of occupational asthma kept 2-hourly measurements of peak expiratory flow at home and at work, analysed using the occupational asthma system (OASYS) plotter, and/or had specific bronchial challenge testing to nitrogen trichloride, or a workplace challenge. Air measurement in one of the pools showed the nitrogen trichloride levels to be 0.1-0.57 mg x m(-3), which was similar to other studies. Two workers had peak expiratory flow measurements showing occupational asthma (OASYS-2 scores 2.88 and 3.8), both had a positive specific challenge to nitrogen trichloride at 0.5 mg x m(-3) with negative challenges to chlorine released from sodium hypochlorite. The third worker had a positive workplace challenge. Swimming-pool asthma due to airborne nitrogen trichloride can occur in workers who do not enter the water because of this chloramine. The air above indoor swimming pools therefore needs to be assessed and managed as carefully as the water.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / chemically induced*
  • Chloramines / adverse effects*
  • Chlorides / adverse effects*
  • Chlorine / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrogen Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Swimming Pools*


  • Chloramines
  • Chlorides
  • Nitrogen Compounds
  • Chlorine
  • nitrogen chloride