The weather is getting warmer and that means visits to your local pool. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that each year, thousands of Americans are injured due to chemicals that are designed to keep the pools clean.
Chlorine has been used as a water disinfectant since the 1700s when it was used to clean the water supply after cholera outbreaks and can be dangerous if not handled properly.
How Often Do Pool Chemical Injuries Occur?
In 2012, 4,900 people were treated in an emergency room for pool chemical injuries. The majority of these patients were under the age of 18 and more than a third of injuries occurred at home. The most common injuries were caused by inhaling pool fumes without wearing any protective gear, such as goggles.
How To Treat Pool Chemical Injuries?
Rittenberger, an associate professor of University of Pittsburgh Medical School, states, “Exposure to chlorine and bromine can cause skin burns and also eye injuries. If you do get chlorine on your skin, you need to wash it off. The best way is with copious irrigation. If it’s in your eyes, you want to have water running over them for probably 15 minutes. This is a medical emergency. And it can lead to cornea damage.”
The study does include some unrelated injuries that became worst due to bacteria infested water rather than injuries caused by pool chemicals.
How to Avoid Pool Chemical Injuries?
Be safe this summer! Here are some precautions you can take to avoid pool chemical injuries and still enjoy the pool:
- Take a course on pool chemical safety
- Read the Safety Data Sheet and product label carefully before using
- Chemicals should be kept away from young children
- Wearing appropriate safety equipment (i.e. safety goggles, gloves and respirator)
- Measure carefully
- Do not mix chlorine products with acid or different pool chemicals
- Do not add water to pool chemicals because an explosive reaction can occur
- Additional information on pool chemical safety found on CDC's website