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Center for Disease Control warns that chemicals in swimming pools send thousands to hospital every year

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 7:44 PM - A new report by the Centre for Disease Control in the U.S. suggests that pool chemicals pose a significant health hazard when used incorrectly.

Between 2003 and 2012, an average of 4,000 people a year in the U.S. visited the ER citing injuries sustained from pool chemicals according to the CDC.

The recent study found that 46 percent of the patients admitted where children and teens and more than a third of the incidents happened at home.

"Chemicals are added to pool water to kill disease-causing germs, maximize the efficacy of the disinfection process, improve water quality, stop corrosion and scaling of equipment, and protect against algal growth," the CDC writes.


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"However, pool chemicals can also lead to injury when mixed together or when appropriate personal protective equipment is not used during handling."

The most common injury reported was poisoning, usually from inhaling chemical fumes.

While chemical injuries aren't as common as bruises sustained from jumping into the shallow end of the pool or from running on wet surfaces, Dr. Jon Rittenberger told NBC that exposure to chlorine and bromine can have long-lasting effects.

“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,” he said.

The CDC makes a number of recommendations that will reduce the risk of injury, including: safe storage practices, reading labels prior to use and wearing protective equipment when handling chemicals.

Swimmers are also advised not to swallow pool water.

The findings are based on information from 100 hospital emergency departments which was used to estimate national pool injury statistics in the U.S.

The report is published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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