Preventing pool chemical gas exposure
Chlorine and muriatic acid fumes injure 27 people in incident at New Jersey public pool
When a pool pump malfunctioned, many people were exposed to dangerous levels of chlorine gas at a commercial pool in New Jersey.
The incident happened at the Glacier Hills Association Pool on July 24, 2020, during a children’s swim lesson.
Katy Ferrante and her two children were among those present.
“All of a sudden we heard the two coaches yelling for everyone to get out of the pool. We automatically thought it was a thunder call,” Ferrante said.
She quickly realized it was not thunder and the adults began ushering the children out of the water.
First responders arrived to find 27 people at the pool, most of them children, who had been exposed to high concentrations of chlorine and muriatic acid that when mixed together, forms toxic chlorine gas.
According to a statement from the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department, four children and one adult were transported to the Morristown Medical Center for respiratory distress. Approximately eighteen others were treated at the scene. Authorities reported that none of the respiratory injuries were life-threatening, and all of the patients were in stable condition.
The pool was closed immediately as investigation on the matter commenced. The pool was to be re-opened when it was found safe for use.
Responders included Morris County Hazmat, Parsippany Fire Districts 1 and 5, Parsippany and St. Clare’s EMS, and the health department. Although police blocked off a portion of the area for the response, they said that the surrounding community was not in danger or at risk of exposure.
While the exact details of the pump malfunction were not disclosed, accidental chlorine gas emissions are common when there is no electrical interlock between the chemical feed system and the pump. The pool pump may stop while the chemical feed equipment continues to add chlorinebased disinfectant and acid into the line, that react to form chlorine gas. When the pump re-starts, this gas is released into the pool area endangering any swimmers or those nearby.
Please see accompanying stories from the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance on Electrical Interlock Protection to prevent this kind of accident.