Summer weather has finally arrived and many homeowners are getting their pools ready. State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey wants pool owners to take a moment to double check that pool chemicals are stored safely. State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Pool chemicals may become a hazard when they get damp or wet with a small quantity of water, or when they are improperly mixed with each other, other chemicals, or reactive materials.” He added, “It is important to keep pool chemicals dry. Store them in separate containers with lids in a locked shed away from the house and pool.”
Ostroskey said, “Local fire departments and hazardous materials teams often respond to emergencies involving swimming pool and hot tub/whirlpool chemicals. The potential costs incurred by the pool owner for emergency measures can be extremely expensive. Take the necessary measures to prevent or address any injury to people or harm to the environment.”
Last year, the State Hazardous Materials team responded to a Sharon home. The owner mixed pool chemicals inside. When they got wet, dangerous chlorine vapors were created. Two people went to the hospital after breathing in the chlorine gas.
Every year more than 5,000 people nationwide visit the hospital with pool chemical related injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Residents should take care and follow these safety tips:
Liquid chemicals, such as sodium hypochlorite (bleach), if spilled, can leak into other containers or seep into cracks in the floor. Liquids, because of their properties, can create hazards not associated with solid or granular products and must be carefully handled.
Mixing chemicals can lead to a chemical reaction that may generate temperatures high enough to ignite nearby combustible materials. Mixing can also lead to the release of highly toxic and corrosive chlorine gas.
Proper pool chemical storage is important. Pool owners should conduct a review of how they store their pool chemicals and especially look for and correct situations where chemicals could be intentionally or accidentally mixed. Make sure to:
Store pool chemicals outside the home or attached garage; a locked stand-alone shed is recommended.
Proper Chemical Disposal
Do not dispose of old pool chemicals in the trash or down the drain. Take old chemicals to a household hazardous waste collection day in your community or to a commercial hazardous waste facility. Since sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is the same chemical used in most water treatment facilities, check to see if your local plant will accept the chemical.
For more information about how to store and use pool chemicals safely, turn to: the MassDEP web site (www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/hazardous/hhwhome.htm) or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.epa.gov/rmp/chemical-safety-alert-safe-storage-and-handling-swimming-pool-chemicals). Pool chemical manufacturers’ websites would also be helpful.