A chemical spill at a swimming pool in Durham, North Carolina, has resulted in 40 children between the ages of six and twelve, plus two adults, being taken to hospital on Wednesday 2 August 2017. Six of the children were initially described as being in a serious condition, but all improved with treatment and most had been released from hospital by Thursday morning. The incident occured at the Downtown Durham YMCA, at about 2.45 pm, when about 100 children from a camp at Club Boulevard Elementary School were visiting the school, when about 380 litres of the chemical sodium hyperchlorate (NaCLO), used as a disinfectant in swimming pools, was spilt.
Hazmat teams attending the 2 August 2017 Durham swimming pool chemical spill. WSBTV.
Sodium hyperchlorate, or bleach, is a basic salt comprised of a sodium ion (Na⁺) and a hypochlorate ion (ClO⁻). As such it is caustic and can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system, or at high levels chemical burns. It is widely used as a cleaning and anti-microbial agent, including in domestic environments, with serious accidents being relatively rare. When incidents do occur with sodium hyperchlorate, it is usually due to fumes being released in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation; this can be particularly problematic if the fumes or solution come into contact with acids, which can lead to the release of, more dangerous, cholrine gas.
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