Pool Chemical Injuries Cause More than 4,500 ER Visits Annually: CDC

Inhalation injuries are the most common. When CDC examined emergency department visits due to pool chemical injuries during 2015- 2017, the top diagnosis was poisoning due to breathing in chemical fumes, vapors, or gases—as when opening chlorine containers, for example.

Injuries resulting from exposure to swimming pool chemicals caused an estimated 4,535 U.S. emergency department visits annually during 2008-2017, according to a report published May 16 in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The number of serious injuries from those chemicals has not changed much in the past 15 years, underscoring the need to raise awareness about safely handling pool chemicals, the agency reported.

Inhalation injuries are the most common. When CDC examined emergency department visits due to pool chemical injuries during 2015-2017, the top diagnosis was poisoning due to breathing in chemical fumes, vapors, or gases—as when opening chlorine containers, for example.

More than one-third of the injury victims (36 percent) were children or teenagers, and 56 percent of the pool chemical injuries occurred at a home.

CDC listed steps that owners of pools and public pool operators should take to prevent these injuries:

  • Read and follow directions on pool chemical product labels.
  • Wear safety equipment, such as respirators or googles, when handling pool chemicals. Check the product labels for directions on what to wear.
  • Keep pool chemicals out of reach of children, teens, and animals, including pets.
  • Never mix different pool chemicals with each other. It is particularly dangerous to mix chlorine and acid.
  • If you operate a public pool, complete the operator training that includes pool chemical safety. Conduct pool chemical safety training for all staff that handle chemicals.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week begins May 20.

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