Will Bromine used with ozone create carcinogens

benavidescj

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2010
431
Fleming Island, FL
I just read on another thread where someone said that bromine used with an ozinator would create carcinogens. Instead of highjacking that thread I wanted to start a new one for this subject. This has me very concerned since I use an ozinator in a bromine spa. So is it true that using an ozinator in a bromine spa is dangerous?
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
Ozone combined with bromine can cause bromates to form in your water. Bromates are a suspected carcinogen in drinking water. Just how dangerous bromates are in a pool/spa situation is a matter of some debate.
 

benavidescj

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2010
431
Fleming Island, FL
I did a little research and found out a couple of things. First, the studies that conclude bromate to be a carcinogen refer to oral ingestion. Here is a link to two reports:

EPA Bromate Toxicoloty Review

California Public Health Goals for Chemicals in Drinking Water - Bromate

Second, it appears that absorption of bromates through the skin is not very good, see the second report which states "Absorption of bromate via the skin is apparently poor". You can read the report to get the details.

My conclusion is that unless you are drinking bromate at 0.30mg/kg-day over an extended period of time you will not get cancer. Unfortunately there is no reference as to the quantity of bromates in spa/pool water but is apparently related to "bromide concentration, pH, temperature, carbonate alkalinity, ultraviolet light (UVA), disinfectant concentration and time (mg/L-min) and transferred ozone dose, among other factors". In my opinion, since absorption of bromate via the skin is poor and the amount of bromates in spa/pool water should be low (no where near the concentration found in hair neutralizing solution), I have to conclude that bromates are safe to swim in.

I look forward to comments.
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
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Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
I would agree with your assessment -- that's great sleuthing, by the way. When looking at routes of exposure, one needs to look not only at oral ingestion and skin absorption, but also at inhalation. There isn't data on toxicity or cancer rates via the inhalation route, but it does not appear that either sodium bromate or potassium bromate are volatile. With aeration jets in a spa there is some potential for creation of water droplets (not just water-only steam from evaporation), but the quantity inhaled would be expected to be small, especially compared to the mg/kg limits.
 

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