Risks From Accidental Exposure To Raised Levels Of Chlorine In Swimming Pools

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Chlorine In Swimming Pools

During the summer months there is an increase in the numbers of incidents associated with accidental release of high levels of chlorine in swimming pools.

Since 2005, the Agency has given advice following 30 such incidents with eight incidents reported so far in 2007.

During April and May 2007 more than 140 people were exposed to raised levels of chlorine as a result of swimming pool incidents and about 20% of those exposed required medical attention.

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Professor Gary Coleman from the Agency said: "We are keen to raise awareness of the health issues related to accidental exposure to high levels of chlorine and to provide practical information on how to respond to such incidents with a view to helping reduce their impact".

"Chlorine is one of the chemicals routinely used to disinfect swimming pools, as it keeps the water clean and prevents the transmission of waterborne diseases. When done correctly this does not pose a public health risk. However, accidents do occur and exposure to chlorine gas due to the unintentional mixing, or poor storage of these chemicals can be hazardous to health."

Exposure to chlorine may initially result in eye and lung irritation, the severity of which will depend on the concentration of the chemical and the length of time people were exposed. Even relatively minor exposures can result in burning of the eyes and throat, while more significant exposures can result in coughing and breathing difficulties.

If people are exposed to high levels of chlorine there are a number of basic steps that should be taken:

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