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Pool Chemical Injuries Send Thousands To ER

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Pool chemical injuries account for as many as 5,200 emergency room visits each year. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that these injuries are preventable, and during 2007 almost half of those injuries occurred at a residence.

According to the study, published in CDC′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), persons can be injured by inhaling fumes when they open pool chemical containers, attempting to pre-dissolve pool chemicals, or handling them improperly. Persons can also be injured when chemicals splash into the eyes. These preventable injuries typically occur during the summer swimming season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and can occur in or out of the pool.

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In addition to pool chemical injuries, thousands of people each year suffer from recreational water illnesses. The study was released ahead of CDC′s National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week, May 18-24. The week aims to raise awareness about healthy swimming behaviors, including ways to prevent recreational water illnesses and injuries. Recreational water illnesses are illnesses spread by swallowing, inhaling vapors, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, spas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans.

“Pool chemicals make the water we swim in safer by protecting us from germs, but these same chemicals can also cause injuries if they are not properly handled,” said Michele Hlavsa, the study′s lead author and epidemiologist at CDC.

Public pool operators and residential pool owners can protect themselves and swimmers by always securing pool chemicals, reading product names and manufacturer′s directions before each use, using appropriate protective gear including safety glasses and gloves, and never mixing chlorine products with each other, with acid, or with any other substance.