The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is conducting the first-ever study of ultraviolet systems? ability to kill chloramines and improve indoor air quality.

The study was jump-started in 2004, when more than 60 people suffered from severe eye and throat irritation due to excess chloramines at three separate facilities in Illinois, said Michael Beach, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist at the CDC?s Division of Parasitic Diseases.

Chloramines are byproducts formed when chlorine-based disinfectants react with ammonia compounds. They create the ?chlorine smell,? and cause skin and eye irritation. Some research suggests they may cause serious health problems such as asthma. Excessive chloramines not only affect public health, but also can be an occupational hazard for lifeguards and pool staffers, who breathe them for eight to 10 hours a day, Beach said.

?We already know UV is a good supplemental disinfection system for killing germs in the water, so now we want to see if this is going to get public benefit from the indoor air quality standpoint,? Beach said.

Lab researchers at DataChem Laboratories in Salt Lake City will test a variety of water and air samples taken from a local pool in Atlanta. Air samples are drawn using a pump that pulls a set volume of air through a filter to collect chemicals in the air. The lab then extracts those chemicals and measures the chloramine levels. The data gathering will be finished in early summer, and analysis will be completed by beginning of 2007.

Beach hopes the findings will encourage people to install UV systems on indoor pools. Many facilities are already using UV to inactivate cryptosporidium, which takes up to a week for chlorine to kill alone.