A new Dutch study adds more evidence to the need for better air quality management, showing that indoor aquatics professionals are more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses than their outdoor peers.
Conducted at Utrecht University in Utrecht, Netherlands, the study found that swim instructors are 2.4 times more likely to suffer sinus inflammation as a result of bacterial infection. The risk of developing chronic cold is 3.4 times greater than from working at indoor pools.
In addition, employees are three times more likely to report an asthma attack in the previous year. The scientists hypothesized that chloramines were to blame for the increased respiratory problems. Chloramines are the byproducts of chlorine when it reacts with organic material such as body oils, skin, sweat and urine. Trichloramine, in particular, causes respiratory illnesses.
The researchers, whose study was published in European Respiratory Journal, sent questionnaires to 624 pool workers at 38 aquatics facilities. They found that the employees experienced higher incidences of congestion, runny noses, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes compared with the general Dutch population.
Though the study was only recently released, experts said the results are not a surprise.
?I don?t think that?s new [information],? said Alison Osinski, Ph.D., president of Aquatic Consulting Services in San Diego. ?[Employees] have a much higher exposure than others.?
According to the scientists, air quality is not heavily addressed in health and safety regulations. They said it?s possible to reduce chloramines by improving patron hygiene, such as showering before entering.
Osinski added that having a good air handling design is important. ?Look at temperature compared with water, relative humidity, number of air exchanges, amount of fresh air, pressurization and air distribution pattern itself,? she suggested.