Media Experts

Swimming pool water contamination by disinfection byproducts, pharmaceuticals, personal care products

Ernest R. Blatchley III, a Purdue University professor with a joint appointment in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering, can talk about the potential dangers of chlorine interacting with urine, sweat, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products in swimming pools.

He can discuss:

  • How chlorine in swimming pools reacts with human body fluids, including urine and sweat, to produce potentially harmful disinfection byproducts, which become airborne and may pose health concerns.
  • The behavior of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in swimming pools.

Chlorination is used primarily to prevent pathogenic microorganisms from growing. Previous research has shown that many constituents of urine and sweat including urea, uric acid, and amino acids, interact with chlorine to produce potentially hazardous disinfection byproducts in swimming pools. Chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products, or PPCPs, also could be interacting with chlorine, producing potentially harmful byproducts. The presence of PPCPs in pools was recently described by the Blatchley group and collaborators. The behavior of these compounds and their effects on swimmers are only beginning to be understood.

Recent findings showed the presence of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, known as DEET, the active ingredient in insect repellants; caffeine; and tri(2-chloroethyl)-phosphate (TCEP), a flame retardant, in swimming pools.

His previous research has shown that certain airborne contaminants are created when chlorine reacts with sweat and urine in indoor swimming pools. Pharmaceuticals may get into swimming pool water from personal care products applied to the skin such as insect repellant, makeup and sunscreen. Many pharmaceuticals that are ingested are not fully metabolized by the body and are excreted in sweat and urine.

Contact: Ernest R. Blatchley III, 765-494-0316,

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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