Special Reports

Pool Chemical Injuries Led to 5, 000 ER visits in 2012, Study


A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that pool chemicals have resulted in 5, 000 emergency room visits in 2012.

Injuries caused by pool chemicals were majorly observed in children and teenagers, a third of those occurred at home pools, of which 50 percent occurred on weekends. The injuries were prominent during summer, Memorial Day and Labor Day among others.

"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," said Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program, in a statement.

For the study, the researchers examined data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Chlorine, the most common chemical used in pools, has been used as a water purifier since the 1700's. It was initially used to cleanse the water after cholera outbreaks.

Researchers said that the most common injury observed during ER visits was poisoning. It occurs when a swimmer inhales the chemicals, for e.g. chlorine. The second most prominent injury was chemical burns that happen when acidic substances are handled without protective gear like goggles and gloves.

Other minor injuries include bumps and bruises that are caused from jumping into the shallow end of the pool.

"Exposure to chlorine and bromine can cause skin burns and eye injuries," said Dr. Jon Rittenberger, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. "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 should have water running over them for probably 15 minutes. This is a medical emergency. And it can lead to cornea damage," nbc news reports.

Rittenberger said that most of the time people forget the dangerous consequences of these chemicals when it is not handled properly.

Researchers have listed steps to prevent pool chemical-related injuries:

-          Follow instructions mentioned on products.

-          Pool chemicals should be sprayed only after wearing appropriate safety equipment like goggles and masks.

-          When not in use, chemicals should be sealed and kept away from young children and animals.

-          Do not mix different chemicals together. For example: chlorine products with acid.

-          Add pool chemical to water and the other way around.

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