Acute chemical incidents involving chlorine have potentially important public health consequences. Swimming pools are the single most common setting for such incidents in the UK. This study systematically describes the distribution, characteristics and public health consequences of all acute chemical incidents associated with swimming pools in England and Wales over a 5-month summer period.Methods
All chemical incidents occurring from June to October 2007 reported to the Health Protection Agency or identified through media reports were included. Standardized information on the incidents was collected from local Health protection units, emergency services and/or local authorities.Results
In the study period, 13 incidents were identified. In many of the incidents, evacuation and dispersal of those involved occurred before the arrival of emergency services and some individuals self-presented to clinical services. During the study period, no individuals suffered from severe health effects due to chlorine exposure.Conclusions
Acute chemical incidents associated with swimming pools are relatively common and can lead to the evacuation of large numbers of people even when the release is confined to the pool plant room. The evacuation and dispersal of wet, poorly clad swimmers may have negative health consequences. Incident management protocols should include consideration of when full pool evacuation is justified and mechanisms to ensure the correct advice is available for affected individuals.