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Pool chemical accidents can be avoided [Letter]

SwimmingU.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionYMCA

We were saddened to hear of the accidental exposure of YMCA campers to excessive levels of pool chemicals at Camp Letts in Edgewater ("Anne Arundel campers sickened by chemicals in pool," July 9). With proper pool design, operation and maintenance, this type of accident is preventable.

Ideally, the pool water pump and pool chemical feeders should be operationally linked to prevent sudden influxes of excess chemical following a lull in pumping. Accidents like the one at Camp Letts could be avoided in the future if pools are designed and operated according to specifications in the new Model Aquatic Health Code. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is drafting the code as expert guidance to states and localities on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of public swimming pools. CDC expects to issue a completed version of it this summer after which it will be available to states and localities to adopt into law. It's a giant step in the right direction toward greater public safety in aquatic venues.

Chlorine and other pool chemicals are added to swimming pools to help keep swimming healthy. CDC calls chlorine and pH the "first line of defense" against waterborne pathogens that can make swimmers sick. Considering the important role pool chemicals play in protecting swimmers' health, implementing safer methods of applying them to pool water is a much-needed next step. For more on proper pool chemical safety, you can visit poolchemicalsafety.com.

Judith Nordgren, Washington, D.C.

The writer is managing director of the American Chemistry Council's Chlorine Chemistry Division.

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