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CDC: Thousands visit ER Each Year for Pool Chemical Injuries

Pool chemical injuries account for as many as 5,200 emergency room visits each year. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that these injuries are preventable. In 2007 almost half of those injuries occurred in pools at private residences.

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. Injuries from pool chemicals can occur in or out of the pool.
In addition to pool chemical injuries, thousands of people each year suffer from recreational water illnesses. These 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.

The complete set of prevention recommendations is also listed at: www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/pdf/pool_chem_assoc_inj.pdf.

Swimming is the second most popular sports activity in the United States, with approximately
339 million swimming visits to recreational water venues.

The best way to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep germs out of the pool. For example, everyone can help create healthy swimming experiences by not swimming when ill with diarrhea, not swallowing pool water, taking kids on bathroom breaks and practicing good hygiene.

Please also see CDC′s Health Swimming Web site at www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming.

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