Swimming Pool School of Safety: Handling Chemicals

The cooling benefits of a swimming pool on a hot summer day are second to none.
What makes pool water so refreshingly clear and inviting however, is a cocktail
of disinfectants and sanitizers. Many of these chemicals are chlorine-based,
depending on the system you use. It's important to be aware of potential
chemical hazards when using or storing these products at work or at home.

Two main types of chlorine-based chemicals are used in pools: organic (i.e.
sodium dichlorocyanurate) and inorganic (i.e. calcium hypochlorite). Organic
and inorganic chlorinating agents are not compatible with each other and must
never be mixed together. Often people get hurt when using the same scoop or
pail for both chemicals without cleaning them, or when adding one product after
the other or in the pool chlorinator. Mixing or cross-contamination of these
chemicals can form an explosive mixture.

Many swimming pool chemicals such as chorine, are oxidizers. They have the
potential to cause a fire or explosion. Some pool chemicals may also be
corrosive and can chemically destroy body tissues on contact. The damage begins
as soon as the chemical touches the skin, eyes, respiratory tract or digestive

When using swimming pool chemicals, follow these safety tips:

Handling pool chemicals

  • Read and follow instructions carefully.
  • Keep containers closed when not in use.
  • For transferring or measuring chemicals, always use a separate scoop for each
    chemical, and use clean metal or plastic scoops (not wood).
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment and clothing, including gloves and
    footwear as needed, and always wash your hands after handling chemicals.
  • Keep moisture away from the chemicals - although these chemicals are meant to
    be added to large quantities of pool water, never add water to the chemicals
    unless instructed to do so on the container label. This may result in the
    release of corrosive chlorine gas. Protect these chemicals from accidental
    contact with rainwater and wet floors/decks.

What not to do:

  • Never use the contents of unlabeled containers, mix different chemicals
    together, or put spilled chemicals back into their containers.
  • Don't mix old chemicals with new chemicals, even if they are the same
  • Don't smoke near chemicals or expose them to heat or flame.
  • Do not touch undiluted chemicals with your hands.
  • Do not reuse a container after emptying it. Always wash it out and dispose of

Storing pool chemicals

  • Keep the chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Store them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, away from sunlight, and in
    their original containers.
  • Do not store chemicals above your head.
  • It is important to keep in mind that certain chemicals react with others.
    Keep oxidizers away from acids to prevent the oxidizers from releasing chlorine
  • Do not store liquids on shelves that are above powders or solids.
  • Keep all pool chemicals away from gasoline, fertilizers, herbicides, grease,
    paints, tile cleaners, turpentine, or flammable materials, especially if you
    store your pool chemicals in a shed or small storage room.

Following these safety tips will help keep you in the swim this summer - safe
and sound!

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety