Occurrence of Disinfection By-Products in Swimming Pools in the Area of Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. Assessment of Multi-Pathway Exposure and Risk

Molecules. 2021 Dec 16;26(24):7639. doi: 10.3390/molecules26247639.


This study investigated the occurrence of disinfection by-products (DBPs) (trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), halonitriles (HANs), halonitromethane (TCNM) and haloketones (HKs)) in different type of swimming pools in the area of Thessaloniki, northern Greece by employing the EPA methods 551.1 and 552.3. Moreover, general water quality parameters (pH, residual chlorine, dissolved organic carbon, UV254 absorption, total nitrogen, alkalinity and conductivity) were also measured. The concentrations of DBPs showed great variability among swimming pools as well as within the same pool between sampling campaigns. HAAs exhibited the highest concentrations followed by THMs, HANs, TCNM and HKs. Exposure doses for four age groups (3-<6 y, 6-<11 y, 11-<16 y and adults) were calculated. Route-specific exposures varied among DBPs groups. Inhalation was the dominant exposure route to THMs and TCNM (up to 92-95%). Ingestion and dermal absorption were the main exposure routes to HAAs (40-82% and 18-59%, respectively), depending on the age of swimmers. HANs contributed up to 75% to the calculated cytotoxicity of pool water. Hazard indices for different exposure routes were <1, suggesting non-carcinogenic risk. Inhalation posed the higher carcinogenic risk for THMs, whereas risk via oral and dermal routes was low. Ingestion and dermal contact posed the higher risk for HAAs. Risk management strategies that minimise DBPs exposure without compromising disinfection efficiency in swimming pools are necessary.

Keywords: DBPs; carcinogenic risk; cytotoxicity; dermal; haloacetic acids; halonitriles; ingestion; inhalation; swimming pool; trihalomethanes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disinfectants / adverse effects*
  • Disinfectants / chemistry
  • Disinfection*
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Swimming Pools*
  • Water Quality*


  • Disinfectants