(Forsyth County, GA) A hazardous materials emergency sickened 20 young children and adults at the Swim Atlanta pool in the Midway Family Festival on June 15, just as the evening commute was picking up on Post Road.
At 4:45 p.m. Forsyth County Fire, EMS, and Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene at the indoor swimming facility at 5059 Post Road in the western part of Forsyth County after reports that children were becoming severely ill.
“A very high level of concentrated amount of chlorine was introduced into the water of the pool these children were in in a very short time frame,” said Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers. “So, in a very narrow period of time, those children had an exposure to a very high level of chlorine very quickly.”
Shivers said a total of 11 department units treated patients at the scene. The children were more acutely sick than the adults, he said. Four children, all under age 10, were transported by ambulance to a local hospital. Shivers could not comment on their conditions.
While many refused further treatment at the scene, Shivers said some parents drove their children to a local hospital for further medical evaluation.
Drivers passing the hazmat scene posted on social media that they saw children being sprayed with hoses outside of the plaza.
“What those parents were witnessing was our hazardous materials team going through our decontamination protocol,” Shivers explained. “We knew those children had been exposed to a very high concentrated level of chlorine in the pools. We needed to make sure that chlorine was washed off their skin and out of their eyes as quickly as possible.”
Shivers said chlorine is safe when distributed in the right amount, but as with any chemical, overexposure can make you sick.
“If it’s released in the air, it tends to be more dangerous than in the water because the water will dilute it quickly. Like anything chemical you’re exposed to, you can only tolerate so much at a time,” Shivers said. “It had the potential to be a lot worse.”
The Forsyth County Department of Environmental Health, which handles pool inspections, is now investigating what caused the chlorine leak.
Swim Atlanta has not returned a request for comment at this time.
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