Pool chemicals can make you sick, NJ Poison Control warns
Sunburn and drownings aren't the only problems to worry about this summer. The New Jersey Poison Control Center has seen an uptick of calls regarding pool chemicals.
This is the season when people are using and disinfecting their pools, says Dr. Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
She says most of the calls they get are from people who are either sickened after they use those chemicals or are concerned and contact the Poison Control Center for guidance.
Close to 200 calls came into the Poison Control Center last year between April and October regarding pool chemicals.
Calello says a typical call is somebody who goes into a closed shed to get the chlorine to treat their pool and the chemical has been locked in there all winter. So when they open the container, they become overcome with the fumes of the chemical.
She says it doesn't matter if it's a powder or liquid chlorine. When someone is overcome by high concentrations of the chemical, their eyes burn, they cough, have trouble breathing, experience a burning throat, and in some cases can wind up in the hospital.
Calello explains that's because when chlorine mixes with water, it forms an acid that is not good for your mouth, eyes or lungs.
The New Jersey Poison Control Center has some tips for safely handling pool chemicals.
— Ventilation. You should only use these chemicals in well-ventilated areas, preferably outdoors.
— Never mix chemicals. The combination could create a toxic gas.
— Read and follow the safety directions on the product's label during each use.
— Keep chlorine and other chemicals safely locked away and out of reach of children and pets.
She says while chlorine is great for the pool because it kills bacteria, be careful while swimming in pools heavily treated with chlorine. You may wind up with eye and skin irritations such as rashes and it could trigger or aggravate bronchial problems, including asthma.
If you feel sick from these pool chemicals or have questions about how to use or store them, Calello advises calling the New Jersey Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The hotline is available 24/7.