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Chlorine in Pools Can Pose Chemical Poisoning Risk

Nebraska boy was hospitalized after swimming in a motel pool

FRIDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A 6-year-old boy was severely poisoned by over-exposure to chloramines in a motel indoor swimming pool in 2006, highlighting the danger posed by pools with poor ventilation and inadequate water chemistry management, according to a report in the Sept. 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Thomas Safranek, M.D., of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in Lincoln, Neb., and colleagues report that the boy played in the indoor swimming pool for three hours at a family gathering, and subsequently developed severe chemical epiglottitis and laryngotracheobronchitis. The boy was placed in pediatric intensive care and recovered by the next day. Twenty-three other people became ill with less severe symptoms.

The probable cause was identified as a build-up of chloramines. Whereas chloramines dissipate in outdoor pools, they can build up in the air about indoor pools that are not properly ventilated.

Clinicians and health care professionals should be on the lookout for such illnesses resulting from exposure to water in a recreational setting, according to the report. "Chloramine-related outbreaks are thought to be common but seldom reported," the authors write.

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