Impact of different combinations of water treatment processes on the


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Environmental Processes

Impact of different combinations of water treatment processes on the concentration of disinfection byproducts and their precursors in swimming pool water Bertram Skibinski, Stephan Uhlig, Pascal Müller, Irene Slavik, and Wolfgang Uhl Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b00491 • Publication Date (Web): 10 Jun 2019 Downloaded from http://pubs.acs.org on June 10, 2019

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IMPACT OF DIFFERENT COMBINATIONS OF WATER TREATMENT PROCESSES

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ON THE CONCENTRATION OF DISINFECTION BY-PRODUCTS AND THEIR

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PRECURSORS IN SWIMMING POOL WATER

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Bertram Skibinski,1,2* Stephan Uhlig,2 Pascal Müller,2 Irene Slavik,2,3 Wolfgang

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Uhl,2,4,5,*

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1

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Germany.

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2

Technische Universität Dresden, Chair of Water Supply Engineering, 01062 Dresden, Germany.

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3

Wahnbachtalsperrenverband, 53721 Siegburg, Germany

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4

Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), 0349 Oslo, Norway.

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5

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Institute of Civil and Environmental

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Technical University of Munich, Chair of Urban Water Systems Engineering, 85748 Garching,

Engineering, 7491 Trondheim, Norway.

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* Corresponding authors. E-mail addresses:

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[email protected] (Bertram Skibinski)

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[email protected] (Wolfgang Uhl)

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Keywords: swimming pool water treatment, disinfection by-products (DBPs),

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activated carbon, ultrafiltration, UV radiation

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Type of article: Research Paper

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ABSTRACT

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To mitigate microbial activity in swimming pools and to assure hygienic safety for

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bathers, pool systems have a re-circulating water system ensuring continuous water

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treatment and disinfection by chlorination. A major drawback associated with the use

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of chlorine as disinfectant is its potential to react with precursor substances present in

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pool water to form harmful disinfection by-products (DBPs). In this study, different

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combinations of conventional and advanced treatment processes were applied to

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lower the concentration of DBPs and their precursors in pool water by using a pilot-

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scale swimming pool model operated under reproducible and fully-controlled

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conditions. The quality of the pool water was determined after stationary

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concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) were reached. The relative removal

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of DOC (Δc cin–1) across the considered treatment trains ranged between 0.1 ± 2.9%

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and 7.70 ± 4.5%, where conventional water treatment (coagulation and sand filtration

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combined with granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration) was revealed to be the most

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effective. Microbial processes in the deeper, chlorine-free regions of the GAC filter

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have been found to play an important role in the degradation of organic substances.

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Almost all treatment combinations were capable of removing trihalomethanes to some

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degree, and trichloramine and dichloroacetonitrile almost completely. However, the

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results demonstrated that effective removal of DBPs across the treatment train does

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not necessarily result in low DBP concentrations in the basin of a pool. This raises the

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importance of the DBP formation potential of the organic precursors, which has been

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shown to depend strongly on the treatment concept applied. Irrespective of the filtration

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technique employed, treatment combinations employing UV irradiation as a second

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treatment step revealed higher concentrations of volatile DBPs in the pool compared

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to those employing GAC filtration as a second treatment step. In the particular case of

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trichloramine, results confirm that its removal across the treatment train is not a feasible

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mitigation strategy since it cannot compensate for the fast formation in the basin.

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1

Introduction

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By their nature, people release microorganisms as well as organic and inorganic matter

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into swimming pool water while bathing (1, 2). In order to avoid microbiological

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contamination and to prevent spreading of pathogenic diseases among bathers, most

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pool waters are disinfected using chlorine-based disinfectants (3). However, the

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pollutants released by the bathers, as well as natural organic matter (NOM) present in

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the filling water of swimming pools, react with chlorine, leading to the formation of a

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variety of harmful disinfection by-products (DBPs) that are characterised as eye- and

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skin-irritating, carcinogenic or as triggers of respiratory problems (4, 5). Many previous

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studies have dealt with the occurrence and formation of DBPs in swimming pool water

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(6, 7). More than 100 DBPs have been identified in swimming pool water (8), with

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trihalomethanes (THMs), halogenated acetic acids (HAAs), chloramines (CAs) and

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haloacetonitriles being the most studied examples (9, 10). To ensure efficient

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disinfection while having a minimal concentration of DBPs in the pool, swimming pool

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water is continuously circulated over a treatment train that consists of different

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consecutive treatment steps (3).

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Besides conventional water treatment processes, such as coagulation, sand filtration

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or granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration, advanced processes, such as membrane

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filtration (micro- (MF) or ultrafiltration (UF)) or UV irradiation are increasingly used for

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pool water treatment (9, 11, 12). Yet, only a few studies have determined the impact

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of membrane filtration and UV irradiation on the water quality in pools (9, 13-18). The

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few results reported are barely comparable with each other. Major concerns for

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comparability arise due to the different operating conditions of the swimming pool

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systems tested. This includes, for instance, differences in bather loading, filling water

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quality, concentration of free chlorine, pH, chlorine/precursor ratio and water

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temperature (1, 2, 7, 19). 4 ACS Paragon Plus Environment

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Only Judd et al. and Goeres et al. established a swimming pool system that allowed

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pool operations on a comparable basis (20, 21). However, Goeres et al. focused their

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work on biofilm formation and did not investigate further the removal efficiencies of

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different treatment processes. Judd et al. compared different swimming pool water

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treatment processes under controlled conditions using a pilot-scale swimming pool

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model, but the number of different treatment combinations that they compared was

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insufficient to get a full picture of the various treatment combinations typically used in

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swimming pools. Further, assessment of the water quality was limited to a small

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selection of DBPs (22), not taking into account other relevant nitrogenous DBPs such

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as trichloramine, dichloroacetonitrile and trichloronitromethane.

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Given the current state of knowledge, the main objective of this study was to assess

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and compare the impact of a high number of treatment combinations with regard to the

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concentration and composition of organic substances and DBPs present in swimming

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pool water. Treatment combinations included advanced processes such as

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coagulation, powdered activated carbon adsorption, ultrafiltration (UF) and UV

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irradiation as well as conventional processes such as coagulation, sand filtration and

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GAC filtration. In order to guarantee comparability of the results, the treatment

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combinations were assessed and compared under fully controlled and reproducible

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conditions using a pilot-scale swimming pool system.

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2

Materials and Methods

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2.1

Pilot-scale swimming pool model

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2.1.1 Components

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A pilot-scale swimming pool model (Figure 1) was established to assess the impact of

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different combinations of treatment processes on organic matter and DBPs present in

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pool water. Table 1 summarises the operating conditions of the pool model, which

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consisted of a basin with spillway and air space, a stirred (~200 rpm), double-walled

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and temperature-controlled splash water tank and a modular water treatment train. A

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pump P1 (CRNE1-7, Grundfos) took water from the splash water tank and fed it at a

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turnover water flow rate of 0.57 m³ h–1 over the treatment train back into the basin

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through 48 evenly distributed nozzles at the bottom of the pool.

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To assure a residence time in the basin of the swimming pool model that is equal to

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that of real-scale pools, the turnover water flow rate was calculated according to the

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German pool water standard DIN 19643 (assuming the pool being only used for

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swimming (e.g. no paddling of pool)) (3). The modular treatment train of the swimming

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pool model consisted of conventional and advanced treatment processes, which are

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described in detail in Section 2.1.3. Two ventilators (V1, V2) fed air into the air space

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above the basin over a perforated flow channel near the spillway. The ratio between

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recirculated air (V1) and fresh air (V2) was controlled by orifice plates to maintain a

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constant absolute humidity of 11–14 g kgair–1 1.5 m above the water level. The air was

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heated by two inline heating coils. All dimensions and flow rates of the pool model were

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chosen according to German swimming pool standards (3).

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Figure 1: Flow scheme of the swimming pool model. Red arrows indicate discontinuous sampling ports (SPs) and continuous sampling port (CSP).

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Table 1:

Dimensions and operating conditions of the swimming pool model.

Parameter

Value

Volume of the basin (L x W x D: 1.6 x 0.8 x 2.1 m)

2.69 m³

Volume of the splash water tank

0.17 m³

Recirculation flow rate

0.57 m³ h–1

Fresh water input

8.5 L h–1

Hydraulic retention time in the basin in single pass operationa

4.7 h

Hydraulic retention time in the systemb

14.2 d

Free chlorine conc. (at 0.12 m depth)c

0.54 ± 0.13 mg L–1 (as Cl2)

pH (at 0.12 m depth)c

7.08 ± 0.14

Water temperature (at 0.12 m depth)c

28.0 ± 0.4 °C

Air temperature (1.5 m above the water level)c

27.2 ± 2.2 °C

Humidity in the air hut (1.5 m above the water level)

11 - 14 g kgair–1

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a respecting

a circulation flow of 0.57 m³ h-1 and a volume of the basin of 2.69 m³

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b respecting

a fresh water flow of 8.5 L h-1 and a total water volume in the pool system of ~2.9 m³

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c

Errors represent the standard deviation ( n = 712). Data shown in Section A of the supplementary material (SM).

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2.1.2

Dosing of fresh water and bather load

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Fresh water was fed at 8.5 L h–1 into the splash water tank for the purpose of dilution.

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This amount was calculated using the maximum permitted bather loading of the pool

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model (~0.28 bather h–1) and a fresh water flow rate of 30 L per bather (3). A constant

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water volume was maintained by discharging the same amount of pool water by a

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peristaltic pump P2 (503S, Watson Marlow). To ensure fully controlled conditions, the

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local tap water used as fresh water was pre-treated by GAC filtration leading to a DOC

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of