of irritated skin are much more common in brominated than chlorinated pools.
small, but increasing number of pools, are being disinfected with a solid
brominated compound (1-bromo-3-chloro-5,5-dimethyl-hydantoin) or “1355”. Di-halo
and Aquabrome are two of the many
trade names for 1355.
- A large pool was changed from chlorine gas to
1355. One month later a 32 year old
male attendant developed itchy, red skin after being in the pool. Eczema subsequently erupted on his hands and
body. It improved away from work and
relapsed rapidly on return. He could
swim without symptoms in a chlorinated pool, but a rescue dive into the
brominated pool resulted in itchy, red eruptions within 20 minutes. Patch tests using 1% 1355 in water and 1%
1355 in petrolatum were negative. No
reactions occurred in 8 other symptomatic patients who were patch-tested with
40 year-old swimming instructor presented a similar picture. Her rash cleared when the pool changed to
using a solid chorine disinfectant (dichlorisocyanurate) but relapsed when she
began to work in another pool treated with 1355.
to 19 pools indicated many staff members are affected. This suggests that frequent exposure is relevant.
Older age groups are affected much more than children.
have been made among readers of pool industry magazines. 70 people had suffered more than trivial
rashes - soreness of mouth, throat, vulva, female urethra, breasts. 65 of the 70 were associated with pools
treated with 1355. 58 of these 65
reacted within 12 hours of swimming. None was affected by chlorinated pools.
1355 dissolves in water and releases bromine, chlorine and
5,5-dimethyl-hydantoin (dmh). Further reactions of these chemicals with
pool contaminants such as urea and creatinine and numerous organics produce
products which include bromamines, chloramines and innumerable complex organic
compounds containing bromine and chlorine. Manufacturers’ data on 1355 toxicity and the results of skin patch and
prick tests indicate that direct allergy to 1355 or DMH is unlikely. Infection is also unlikely because pools
having the highest total bromine residuals [as measured using the
reagent diethyl-p-phenylenediamine (DPD)], and therefore the lowest
bacterial contamination, had higher incidents of skin irritation.
Although the precise irritants have not been (and may never be)
identified, there is strong circumstantial evidence that 1355 reacts with
chemicals common in swimming pools to form compounds which irritate the skin of