Pool Chemicals are Sending Americans to the Emergency Room

Pool Chemicals are Sending Americans to the Emergency Room

Swimming is known for its physical health benefits, but taking a plunge in the pool could cause you to end up in the hospital. A new government report found that each year, chemicals used to keep swimming pools safe injure thousands of people in the U.S.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2012, 4,876 people were sent to the emergency room, most frequently from poisoning that occurred when they inhaled chlorine and other chemicals. Almost half of the hospital visitors were children under 18.

Other chemical injuries included burns to the skin and eye injuries from bromine and chlorine.

“Chemicals are added to the water in pools to stop germs from spreading. But they need to be handled and stored safely to avoid serious injuries,” chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, Michele Hlavsa said in a statement.

When we think of the sun-soaked summer months, we think about the barbecues, bathing suits, and bobbing along in our swimming pools. However, most people don’t think about how dangerous these pool chemicals can be when not handled with protective goggles and gloves.

Combining chlorine with small amounts of water creates a gas that can cause serious damage to the lungs as opposed to pouring straight into the pool.

From 2002-2008, the CDC analyzed data from reported illnesses and injuries related to pool disinfectants and other chemicals in California, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Texas. They identified 584 cases of illness or injury in these six states alone (estimated national total of 28,071 cases). “The most common contributing factors included mixing incompatible products, spills and splashes of chemicals, lack of appropriate PPE use, and dust clouds or fumes generated by opening a chemical container,” the previous report stated.

Poisoning most commonly occurred at private residential pools. The most commonly reported symptoms included coughs, upper respiratory irritation, dyspnea, and eye and skin injuries. California had the highest poisoning cases based on the data from the six states. New York had 36 pool chemical related illnesses or injuries reported during 1983 and 2007.

In the new report, the CDC provides recommendations such as safe storage practices, wearing protective gear, and reading labels before usage to reduce the risk of injury around these chemicals. Always keep children away from the area where you are handling the chemicals.

Image courtesy of posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net