Select Page

Swimming pool contamination refers to several products that can cause health problems if not prevented and maintained correctly. Using specific chemicals and cleaning methods will ensure pool water is disinfected. However, chemicals used in the wrong dosage or mixed with other compounds can have severe consequences for swimmers and pool owners. Regular maintenance, testing, and identifying swimming pool contaminants are the solution to preventing contamination. This blog post will outline how characterising contaminants can do that with dissolved species analysis.

The Importance of Identifying Swimming Pool Contaminants

Contamination in swimming pools is mainly brought into the water by humans and animals and can result in various illnesses and health problems. To minimise these risks, pool owners should closely monitor swimming pool water to ensure compliance with health standards and to maintain the correct levels of chemicals in the water. It can be challenging, but keeping pool water disinfected and safe for swimming can be achieved through chlorination, filtration, and managing the water’s total alkalinity, pH levels, and calcium hardness.

Most swimming pool contaminants include saliva, skin tissue and sweat, urine, hair, faecal matter, cosmetics, and ammonia. The components in sweat and urine do not cause sickness in humans, but when they react with swimming pool chemicals, they can cause problems. Additionally, microorganisms from excretion can result in significant health issues such as diarrhoea, eye infection, fever, vomiting, or worse in some cases. Those with weaker immune systems, including children and the elderly, are more susceptible to catching an infection from swimming pool contaminants.

Aside from the contaminants mentioned above, other products found in swimming pools could cause problems, including cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, and some species released into the air when swimmers shower or bathe, known as disinfection by-products (DBPs). These DBPs are formed when organic particles in water mix with disinfectants like chlorine and can be particularly concerning in indoor swimming pools. If humans are exposed to DBPs for an extended period or in substantial amounts, they are at a higher risk of cancer, liver damage, and reduced nervous system function. So, what can be done about DBPs in swimming pool water? Dissolved species analysis.

Dissolved Species Analysis

Dissolved species analysis is a sampling technique that uses membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) to identify and characterise samples of gases dissolved in liquids or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). MIMS is frequently used for real-time analysis and monitoring of water quality and chemical reactions, and analysed samples can be taken from gels, liquids, or solids. 
The MIMS analysis technique is an ideal solution for identifying disinfectant by-products. It is suitable for qualitative and quantitative analysis and offers sensitive and in-situ monitoring of DBPs through just one instrument. The concentration of dissolved DBPs, such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and chloramines, can be identified using multiple m/z values against the signals

Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical designs and manufactures quadrupole mass spectrometers in various configurations for specific gas analysis applications and to support mass ranges of 100 to 5000 AMU. Our product range enables analysis of the widest variety of compounds, including volatile organic, metal-organic and inorganic compounds.


In the previous section, we mentioned that membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) could analyse dissolved compounds, which helps identify disinfection by-products. Hiden Analytical has designed a MIMS system, the HPR-40 DSA, perfect for DBPs analysis. Coupled with multiple inlets for simultaneous analysis and temperature measurement probes, the HPR-40 DSA can quickly and accurately identify dissolved swimming pool contaminants such as trihalomethanes and chloramines and monitor chloroform levels.  

For more information on how dissolved gas analysis can be used to characterise swimming pool contaminants, contact a member of Hiden Analytical today.