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Rapid Field Test to Improve Swimming Pool Water/Air Quality

Description:

 

Rapid Field Test to Improve Swimming Pool Water/Air Quality

Phase I SBIR proposals will be accepted.

Fast-Track proposals will not be accepted.

Phase I clinical trials will not be accepted.

Number of anticipated awards: 1

Budget (total costs): Phase I: up to $150,000 for up to 6 months

PROPOSALS THAT EXCEED THE BUDGET OR PROJECT DURATION LISTED ABOVE MAY NOT BE FUNDED.

Background

To protect swimmers’ health, chlorine is commonly added to pool water to kill germs and stop them from spreading. However, chlorine also combines with inorganic and organic materials from swimmers to create organic and inorganic chemical by-products called chloramines. While the organic chloramines tend to accumulate in the water, the inorganic chloramines such as di-and tri-chloramine are volatilized and accumulate in the air above the pool. The inorganic chloramines cause ocular and respiratory distress, particularly in indoor pools. The strong chemical smell people experience and think is chlorine is actually the volatile organic chloramines. CDC has investigated several health incidents reporting skin and eye irritation and acute respiratory distress outbreaks that were associated with exposures to inorganic chloramines. More recent data have suggested a linkage with more severe outcomes such as asthma.

In August of 2014, CDC led a national collaborative effort with public health, industry, and academic partners from across the United States to develop a national guidance document called the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC: http://www.cdc.gov/mahc/) The MAHC is a voluntary guidance document based on science and best practices that can help local and state authorities and the aquatics sector make swimming and other water activities healthier and safer. States and localities can use the MAHC to create or update existing pool codes to reduce the risk for outbreaks, drowning, and pool-chemical injuries. The MAHC effort was unable to set a recommended level for the inorganic chloramines that are associated with health effects, due to the lack of a rapid commercially-available, pool side test to differentiate the volatile inorganic chloramines from the organic chloramines in water samples. Current water tests can only measure the value for the "combined chlorine" and cannot separate out the irritant inorganic chloramines from the organic chloramines that make up the "combined chlorine" measure.

Development of tests that can measure the inorganic chloramines separately from the organic chloramines in a water sample is needed, so actionable levels can be set in the MAHC and other pool codes across the country. With such tests, aquatics staff will be able to respond to actionable levels of volatile inorganic chloramines in the water, so that appropriate water and air quality can be maintained.

Project Goals

The goal of this project is to develop a simple, implementable pool-side test method(s) to gather separate measures for organic and inorganic combined chlorines in pool water. Regulators can then expect that pool operators can test for these

compound groups and respond to regulatory level requirements for water quality. Such a test would assist pool operators in improving water quality and associated air quality.

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables

Investigate basic chemistry of these reactions and develop plan for test development.

Impact

At this time there is no rapid commercial test to differentiate organic and inorganic chloramines in pool water samples. Development of such a test would have significant impact on the improved health of swimmers and others using the nation’s aquatic facilities. CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code has not set a recommended level on "combined chlorine" due to the absence of a test to differentiate the irritant inorganic chloramines (the actual causes of ocular and respiratory health effects) from the organic chloramine mix. Development of tests that can measure the inorganic chloramines separately from the organic chloramines in a water sample is needed so actionable levels can be set in the MAHC and other pool codes across the country. With such tests, aquatics staff will be able to respond to actionable levels of volatile inorganic chloramines in the water, so that appropriate water and air quality can be maintained.

Commercialization Potential

With a rapid commercial test available, the MAHC could set a recommended level for compliance and pool operators could reasonably be expected to measure and meet the water quality limits. A rapid commercial test to differentiate organic and inorganic chloramines in pool water samples could be marketed to states/territories and all aquatic facility operators. If the data were available, recommended levels for organic and inorganic chloramines were set by CDC’s MAHC. Pool inspectors across the US and the 300,000 public aquatic facilities in the country would be potential customers for such a test as well as residential pool owners.

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