West Lafayette, Indiana - Ernest R. Blatchley III, a Purdue University professor who was once a competitive rower, can speak generally about the potential health hazards to athletes posed by waterborne contaminants at the Rio Summer Olympics. He has a joint appointment in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering.
Members of the U.S. Rowing team became ill after competing in an international event last summer in the same waterway in Rio that will be a venue for Olympic events.
Blatchley's research and teaching focuses on drinking water, and some of his work is related to treatment of water from sources such as reservoirs that may contain microorganisms that cause gastrointestinal illness. He recently returned from the Dominican Republic for a class he is teaching in which his students are designing, building and implementing a community scale water-treatment facility.
He also can speak about how chlorine in swimming pools reacts with human body fluids, including urine and sweat, to produce potentially harmful disinfection byproducts, which become airborne and may pose health concerns. His work also has investigated the behavior of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in swimming pools. Many pharmaceuticals that are ingested are not fully metabolized by the body and are excreted in sweat and urine.