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Inhalational Chlorine Injuries at Public Aquatic Venues — California, 2008–2015
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    28520711
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5657649
  • Description:
    In June 2015, personnel from California's Contra Costa Health Services Environmental Health and Hazardous Materials (hazmat) divisions were alerted to a possible chemical release at a swimming pool in an outdoor municipal water park. Approximately 50 bathers were in the pool when symptoms began; 34 (68%) experienced vomiting, coughing, or eye irritation. Among these persons, 17 (50%) were treated at the scene by Contra Costa's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and released, and 17 (50%) were transported to local emergency departments; five patients also were evaluated later at an emergency department or by a primary medical provider. Environmental staff members determined that a chemical controller malfunction had allowed sodium hypochlorite and muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) solutions to be injected into the main pool recirculation line while the recirculation pump was off; when the main recirculation pump was restarted, toxic chlorine gas (generated by the reaction of concentrated sodium hypochlorite and muriatic acid) was released into the pool. A review of 2008-2015 California pesticide exposure records identified eight additional such instances of toxic chlorine gas releases at public aquatic venues caused by equipment failure or human error that sickened 156 persons. Chemical exposures at public aquatic venues can be prevented by proper handling, storage, and monitoring of pool chemicals; appropriate equipment operation and maintenance; training of pool operators and staff members on pool chemical safety; and reporting of chemical exposures.

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