Chemical Fumes at a California Pool Made 19 People Sick. Here's How to Stay Safe from Chlorine Exposure
The disinfecting chemical can be dangerous if it's inhaled, swallowed, or on skin.
Although swimming season might be over in many parts of the country, at a Southern California pool this week, 19 kids and adults fell ill after exposure to pool chemicals.
Twelve children and seven adults were taken to local hospitals Wednesday night, USA Today reported. Ventura County Fire Department Captain Stan Ziegler told the Ventura County Star they had been “overcome by fumes.”
Authorities think pool equipment malfunctioned at the Daland Swim School in Thousand Oaks, California, leading to extra chlorine–a chemical used to kill bacteria–to pump into the pool, the Associated Press reported.
While chlorine poisoning certainly sounds serious, all the affected individuals are expected to make a full recovery, according to the AP.
Some of the sickened swimmers reported trouble breathing, one of the more common signs of of chlorine exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other symptoms include a burning sensation in the throat, nose, or eyes; coughing; watery eyes; and even nausea or vomiting or fluid in the lungs.
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The most important thing to do if you’re exposed to excessive amounts of chlorine is to leave the area. “Quickly moving to an area where fresh air is available is highly effective in reducing exposure to chlorine,” according to the CDC. Wash your body with soap and water and remove any clothing that would have been exposed too–including swimsuits. The next step is to seek medical attention right away, although there is no antidote to chlorine exposure. Instead, health care professionals will treat any symptoms you might be experiencing. (For example, you might need treatment for wheezing or difficulty breathing.)
While you’re probably most familiar with chlorine in swimming pools, it actually poses a greater threat in the form of household cleaners containing the chemical. Accidental spills or swallowing can lead to burns and poisoning. Always store these products out of reach of children.
Chlorine exposure and poisoning is more dangerous the greater the amount of the chemical you’re exposed to, according to Mount Sinai. The faster you’re able to get medical help, the better your chance for a full recovery.
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