Photolysis of inorganic chloramines and efficiency of trichloramine abatement by UV treatment of swimming pool water
Trichloramine, one of the three inorganic chloramines (mono-, di- and trichloramine), is a problematic disinfection by-product in recreational pool water since it causes skin and eye irritations as well as irritations of the respiratory tract. The most commonly used chloramine mitigation strategy in pool water is UV treatment. Experiments with membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) confirmed that inorganic chloramines are effectively degraded by UV irradiation with low-pressure (LP) and medium-pressure (MP) mercury lamps (apparent quantum yields (QY): NH2Cl = 0.50 (LP) and 0.31 (MP) mol einstein(-1), NHCl2: 1.06 (LP) and 0.85 (MP) mol einstein(-1)). Trichloramine showed the fastest depletion with a quantum yield slightly above 2 mol einstein(-1) in purified (LP and MP) and pool water (MP). This high quantum yield can partly be explained by reactions involving OH radicals (purified water) and the reaction of trichloramine with moieties formed during UV irradiation of pool water. The presence of free chlorine affects trichloramine degradation (QY: ∼1.5 mol einstein(-1)) since it scavenges OH radicals and competes with trichloramine for reactive species (e.g. organic amines). Measurements in a pool facility revealed that the installed UV reactors degraded trichloramine by 40-50% as expected from laboratory experiments. However, trichloramine reduction in the pools was less pronounced than in the UV reactors. Model calculations combining pool hydraulics with formation/abatement of trichloramine showed that there was a fast trichloramine formation in the pool from the residual chlorine and nitrogenous precursors. The main factors influencing trichloramine concentrations in pool water are the free chlorine concentration and the UV treatment in combination with the recirculation rate through the water treatment system.