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Alabama Health Department warns mishandling pool chemicals can lead to illness

WAAY 31 found out how cities keep public pools safe.

Posted: May 23, 2019 5:31 PM
Updated: May 23, 2019 5:40 PM

The Alabama Department of Health issued a warning about pool safety on Thursday. Officials say every year, thousands of people go to hospitals because the chemicals in pools have been mishandled.

The Arab City Swimming Pool doesn't officially open until Saturday, but lifeguards have been hard at work making sure the pool is safe for swimmers to dip their toes in.

Presley Collins is a lifeguard at the pool in Arab. One of her jobs is to check the chemicals in the water.

"We test for bromine, chlorine, alkalinity....several things," she said.

Even though pool staff should be checking, the Department of Health suggests you do your own check.

You can buy your own litmus paper at stores like Walmart, Amazon or Lowe's. You dip them in the pool to make sure chemicals aren't at dangerous levels.

"It'll also tell you the ideal (levels)," Collins said.

Each test will show what range the ideal levels are for each chemical. If a chemical is out of whack, it could open swimmers up to health issues like bacterial infections, respiratory problems, rashes and eye redness.

The Arab City Swimming Pool has a multi-part system. The machine tests what chemicals are needed and puts them in the water. Then, lifeguards do their own manual check a couple of times a day.

The Department of Health also warns if you feel sick or have cuts, don't go swimming. Open wounds can make swimmers more vulnerable to bacteria lurking in the water that cause infections.

A Huntsville Hospital pediatrician told WAAY 31 it's rare to see people admitted for pool chemical illnesses. It's more common to treat children who ingest pool chemicals straight from the container, which is why it's so important to keep those chemicals locked up.

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