A series of unrelated chemical incidents at public pools have resulted in multiple people being sent to the hospital this June.
In Chesterfield, Virginia, just south of Richmond, four children and one adult were transported by ambulance, while eleven additional children were taken to the hospital by their parents following chemical exposure at the Harpers Mill pool on June 15.
Witnesses said that after a strong smell of chemicals, dozens of people began surging out of the pool, coughing, gagging, and vomiting.
First responders arrived following the report of a strong odor coming from the pool. Chesterfield Fire Lt. Kenny Mitchell said those treated at the hospital complained of nausea and respiratory issues. All patients were treated for non-life-threatening chemical exposure, and the majority were released later that day.
An investigation revealed the cause of the exposure was a pump malfunction.
“Chesterfield Fire Marshal’s office concluded through their investigation no improper procedures were conducted by onsite pool staff. Preliminary information has indicated a pump malfunction occurred,
In Memoriam, John Romano, July 31, 1948 – July 13, 2022. Funeral services July 19 at 11 a.m. St. Jerome Church, Norwalk, CT. See story on page 15. allowing more than normal pool chemical to enter into the pumping system,” a release said.
Sutro Swim, the pool company that maintains the pool, said they use a combination of sodium hypochlorite and acid to sanitize the pool and for pH control.
Following the incident, the company stayed at the scene to test the water and check the automatic chemical dispenser.
That same day in Cumming, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, 20 children and several adults were triaged, assessed, decontaminated, and treated, following a chemical exposure incident at the Swim Atlanta swim school pool. Six of the children, all under 10, were taken to the hospital, although according to the fire department, more parents could have made the decision to take their children for additional care.
The children exhibited varying reactions to the chemicals, including vomiting, trouble breathing, and burning eyes.
Reports from the Swim Atlanta staff and authorities indicate that “a large amount of chlorine had been accidentally introduced into one of the pools in a very concentrated and quick manner, thus exposing those in the water to an abnormally high chlorine concentration.”
Fire officials also noted that because the facility is indoor, the air also had elevated chlorine levels, which added to the chemical irritation of those affected.
Chris Davis, a senior coach at a different Swim Atlanta location, said he was unnerved by the incident and that in the 45 years the multi-location swim school has been in operation, nothing like this has ever happened.
“We’re in the business to help children,” Davis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re trying to teach them to swim so they won’t drown, and then we’re trying to help other ones to realize their potential if they want to be a competitive swimmer. The last thing we’d ever want to do is hurt a child.”
At press time, the cause of the exposure incident was under investigation.
Later in June, three people were taken to the hospital following a “possible hazardous materials incident” at the Asheville Racquet Club swimming pool in North Carolina.
The fire department said that the people reported having “difficulty breathing and difficulty speaking between breaths.”
Although eight total people were impacted, only one adult and two children were taken to a hospital for additional evaluation.
At the time, the fire department was unable to confirm the cause, but the department said they believe the reaction may be related to muriatic acid and chlorine.
In an emailed statement to McClatchy News, the Asheville Racquet Club stated, “We experienced an isolated incident on Saturday afternoon which unfortunately affected some of our swimmers. After an initial investigation in collaboration with internal and external resources, we have implemented measures to ensure that this type of incident cannot happen again.”