Regulation, formation, exposure, and treatment of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in swimming pool waters: A critical review

Linyan Yang, Xueming Chen, Qianhong She, Guomin Cao, Yongdi Liu, Victor W.-C. Chang, Chuyang Y. Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

234 Downloads (Pure)


The microbial safety of swimming pool waters (SPWs) becomes increasingly important with the popularity of swimming activities. Disinfection aiming at killing microbes in SPWs produces disinfection by-products (DBPs), which has attracted considerable public attentions due to their high frequency of occurrence, considerable concentrations and potent toxicity. We reviewed the latest research progress within the last four decades on the regulation, formation, exposure, and treatment of DBPs in the context of SPWs. This paper specifically discussed DBP regulations in different regions, formation mechanisms related with disinfectants, precursors and other various conditions, human exposure assessment reflected by biomarkers or epidemiological evidence, and the control and treatment of DBPs. Compared to drinking water with natural organic matter as the main organic precursor of DBPs, the additional human inputs (i.e., body fluids and personal care products) to SPWs make the water matrix more complicated and lead to the formation of more types and greater concentrations of DBPs. Dermal absorption and inhalation are two main exposure pathways for trihalomethanes while ingestion for haloacetic acids, reflected by DBP occurrence in human matrices including exhaled air, urine, blood, and plasma. Studies show that membrane filtration, advanced oxidation processes, biodegradation, thermal degradation, chemical reduction, and some hybrid processes are the potential DBP treatment technologies. The removal efficiency, possible mechanisms and future challenges of these DBP treatment methods are summarized in this review, which may facilitate their full-scale applications and provide potential directions for further research extension.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1039-1057
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Under a Creative Commons license


  • Disinfectants
  • Disinfection by-products (DBP)
  • Precursors
  • Human exposure
  • DBP treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Regulation, formation, exposure, and treatment of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in swimming pool waters: A critical review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this