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Journal of Water and Health Vol 9 No 3 pp 586–596 © IWA Publishing 2011 doi:10.2166/wh.2011.144

Application of an optimized system for the well-defined exposure of human lung cells to trichloramine and indoor pool air

C. Schmalz, H. G. Wunderlich, R. Heinze, F. H. Frimmel, C. Zwiener and T. Grummt

Environmental Analytical Chemistry, Center for Applied Geoscience (ZAG), Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen, Sigwartstrasse 10, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany E-mail: christian.zwiener@uni-tuebingen.de
Federal Environment Agency, Heinrich-Heine-Strasse 12, 08645 Bad Elster, Germany
Water Chemistry, Engler-Bunte-Institut, University Karlsruhe (TH), Engler-Bunte-Ring 1, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany


In this study an in vitro exposure test to investigate toxicological effects of the volatile disinfection by-product trichloramine and of real indoor pool air was established. For this purpose a set-up to generate a well-defined, clean gas stream of trichloramine was combined with biotests. Human alveolar epithelial lung cells of the cell line A-549 were exposed in a CULTEX® device with trichloramine concentrations between 0.1 and 40 mg/m3 for 1 h. As toxicological endpoints the cell viability and the inflammatory response by the cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 were investigated. A decreasing cell viability could be observed with increasing trichloramine concentration. An increase of IL-8 release could be determined at trichloramine concentrations higher than 10 mg/m3 and an increase of IL-6 release at concentrations of 20 mg/m3. Investigations of indoor swimming pool air showed similar inflammatory effects to the lung cells although the air concentrations of trichloramine of 0.17 and 0.19 mg/m3 were much lower compared with the laboratory experiments with trichloramine as the only contaminant. Therefore it is assumed that a mixture of trichloramine and other disinfection by-products in the air of indoor pool settings contribute to that effect.

Keywords: cell viability; CULTEX®; cytokines IL-6 and IL-8; human lung cells exposure; indoor pool air; trichloramine

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