Analisis of Human Exposure to Chloroform in a Hot Tub

Topics: Chlorine, Water purification, Water pollution Pages: 16 (4916 words) Published: March 28, 2011
Hot tubs are very popular across America due to their relaxation as well as health benefits. Hot tubs have been attributed health benefits ranging from relief of muscle and joint pain, to help in treatment of HIV and other viral infections. Because of this, many people own hot tubs and many more go to health spas where they can use them.

On the other hand, hot tubs are not that easy to maintain. A consistent disinfectant level must be maintained in order to inhibit the growth of bacteria which could cause infections to the people who use them. The disinfectant of choice for most hot tubs is chlorine, mainly because of its effectiveness, persistence in the water, and the familiarity with its properties. Since the 70’s, attention has been brought to chlorine disinfection by products and their dangers. These byproducts have been shown to be formed when the free chlorine reacts with NOM (natural organic material) in the water. In this report the focus will be on chloroform, one compound of the trihalomethane group, which has been showed to be a human carcinogen. It is the purpose of this paper to assess exposure to chloroform through the dermal and inhalation routes while using an indoor hot tub by creating a worst case scenario, which should exceed the real concentrations and exposure.

In order to make this assessment, it is necessary to know the air and water chloroform concentrations while the hot tub is being used. This was done by using data form national surveys that measured chloroform concentrations in water. This concentration was found to be 350 μg/l, and this will be the base concentration. After the water concentration is known, then mass balance equations can be used to determine the air concentrations depending on the air change rate of the room and the scenario being studied.

The results from the analysis vary depending on the scenario. Exposure concentration vary from a high of 630 μg/l in air and 3500 μg/l in water for the scenario with a wooden hot tub with 10X the base water concentration and an air change rate of 0.25 ACH, to a low of 4.9 μg/l in air and 350 μg/l in water for the scenario with a non wood hot tub and an air exchange rate of 4 ACH. Uptake levels vary just as much for a 30 minute soak with a high of 100,800 μg through the inhalation route and 47,880 μg through the dermal route and a low of 840 μg through inhalation and 4,880 μg through the dermal route. 1

Anybody who has been in a hot tub knows how relaxing and how good it makes you feel. With all the stresses in life, everyone can use a little relaxation and hot tubs are the choice of many people. In addition, health benefits are another reason why more than 1 million consumers in the US own hot tubs. Some of these benefits include control of diabetes; help in reducing weight and controlling cellulite; relief of muscle and joint pain; relax muscle spasms; improved athletic performance; help people with insomnia; cardiovascular benefits such as lowered blood pressure; help to treat fybromyalgia by reducing pain due to this condition; assisting women in labor; relief for venous insufficiency; help in treatment of viral infections such as HIV, CFIDS, and herpes and also even helps cancer due to the enhanced immune response produced by the spas natural ability to bring about hyperthermia or heat treatment. In order for hot tubs to be safe they must be effectively disinfected. If they are not, many diseases could be transmitted through the water. The warmth of the water in the hot tub makes it an ideal place for bacteria to thrive. An example is legionnaire’s disease. This bacterium causes a lung infection that can be fatal. In order to contract this disease, one does not have to be in the hot tub, but just being near it is enough since the bacteria can become airborne and inhaled. In a hot tub showroom in Virginia, 20 people contracted the disease just by being in the store, two of them died....
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