They showed symptoms including vomiting, respiratory illness, and skin and eye irritation, according to Durham County Emergency Management. One person from a building adjacent to the YMCA was also treated at a local hospital. “Everybody came out coughing, choking, spitting up and then they told everybody to get out of the pool and then once everybody was out they were choking and spitting up, ”a witness said.
Emergency crews at the swimming pool
Six children were initially considered to be in serious condition at the scene, but they improved after being treated by hospital staff. It is supposed that a mechanical issue occurred at the pool pump involving chemicals used for pool disinfecting which reacted with each other, causing nauseous fumes. A strong odor was in the area, near the pool pump room. A hazmat situation was declared and a hazardous materials team was on the scene. “We ended up with 11 units from the Durham Fire Department on the scene, about 25 of our firefighters, including the hazmat team,” said Daniel Curia with the City of Durham Fire Department. The chemical involved was sodium hypochlorite, which is used for everyday upkeep of swimming pools. According to WRAL’s Dr. Allen Mask, side effects of exposure to the chemical include blurry vision and watery eyes as well as coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, nausea and vomiting. The pool has been closed and the incident is investigated.