Jul 22, 2016

CDC Solicits Pool Water Quality Test

Small Business Innovation Research Grant to fund development

pool, water quality, air quality, CDC, chloramine, chlorine, grant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted of a solicitation for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant related to development of a rapid, simple and implementable poolside test method to gather separate measures for organic and inorganic combined chlorine in pool water to improve swimming pool water and associated air quality. The submission deadline for grant applications is Sept. 5.

The chlorine commonly added to pool water combines with inorganic and organic materials from swimmers to create chloramines. While the organic chloramines tend to accumulate in the water, the inorganic chloramines such as di- and tri-chloramine are volatilized and accumulate in the air above the pool. The inorganic chloramines can cause ocular and respiratory distress, particularly in indoor pools. CDC has investigated several health incidents reporting skin and eye irritation and acute respiratory distress outbreaks that were associated with exposure to inorganic chloramines. More recent data have suggested a linkage with more severe outcomes such as asthma.

In August 2014, CDC led a national collaborative effort with public health, industry and academic partners from across the U.S. to develop a national guidance document called the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), a voluntary guidance document based on science and best practices that can help local and state authorities and the aquatics sector make water activities healthier and safer. The MAHC effort was unable to set a recommended level for the inorganic chloramines associated with health effects due to the lack of a rapid commercially available poolside test to differentiate the volatile inorganic chloramines from the organic chloramines in water samples.

Current water tests can only measure the value for combined chlorine and cannot separate out the irritant inorganic from the organic chloramines that make up the combined chlorine measurement. Development of tests that can measure the inorganic chloramines separately from the organic chloramines in a water sample is needed so actionable levels can be set in the MAHC and other pool codes across the country. With such tests, aquatics staffs will be able to respond to actionable levels of volatile inorganic chloramines in the water, so that appropriate water and air quality can be maintained.

Applicants should develop simple, implementable, poolside test methods to gather separate measures for organic and inorganic combined chlorines in pool water. Regulators then can expect that pool operators can test for these compound groups and respond to regulatory level requirements for water quality. 

Development of such a test would have significant impact on the improved health of swimmers and others using the nation’s aquatic facilities. With a rapid commercial test available, the MAHC could set a recommended level for compliance and pool operators could reasonably be expected to measure and meet the water quality limits. A rapid commercial test to differentiate organic and inorganic chloramines in pool water samples could be marketed to states/territories and all aquatic facility operators. Pool inspectors across the U.S. and the 300,000 public aquatic facilities in the country would be potential customers for such a test as well as residential pool owners.

Please refer to PHS 2016-02 Omnibus Solicitation of the NIH, CDC, FDA and ACF for Small Business Innovation Research Grant Applications (Parent SBIR [R43/R44]) at for all application information: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-16-302.html

See page 150 of the SBIR Announcements for the full proposal: https://sbir.nih.gov/sites/wqp/files/2016-2_SBIR-STTR-topics.pdf