×

Please Remove Adblock
Adverts are the main source of Revenue for DoveMed. Please remove adblock to help us create the best medical content found on the Internet.

First Aid for Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Swimming pool cleaners are solutions used for pool cleaning purposes, to keep the swimming pool disinfected and sanitized. They normally contain a mixture of sanitizers, oxidizers, and other special chemicals. Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound.


What is Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning?

  • Swimming pool cleaners are solutions used for pool cleaning purposes, to keep the swimming pool disinfected and sanitized. They normally contain a mixture of sanitizers, oxidizers, and other special chemicals
  • Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Pool Cleaner Poisoning
  • Swimming Pool Cleaner Toxicity

What are the Causes of Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning?

  • Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning is caused by the ingestion, inhalation, or exposure of skin to swimming pool cleaning compounds and products
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Swimming pool cleaners are a complex mix of chemicals that include chlorine and its compounds, sodium carbonates and bicarbonates, cyanuric acid, calcium and lithium hypochlorite, etc.
  • Some of these chemicals, especially chlorine and chlorine-based compounds, are toxic to humans

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body, such as the vascular system, digestive system, respiratory system, skin and ENT may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning may include:

  • Breathing difficulties, if fumes of the solution or chemical powders are inhaled
  • Severe burning and associated pain in the mouth, throat, and food-pipe (even the stomach may be burnt)
  • Speaking and swallowing difficulties due to swelling of tongue and throat
  • Severe skin irritation and burns (perforations on the skin may be observed)
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Blood in stool
  • Nausea and vomiting (blood in vomit)
  • Sudden decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Feeling dizzy, lack of coordinated movement
  • Low level of alertness
  • Collapse
  • Severe changes in blood pH value affecting many parts of the body

How is First Aid administered for Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number immediately, for emergency assistance
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Carefully remove the individual from the exposure area; move them to region of fresh air immediately
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Otherwise, following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give milk or water to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the product bottle/container to the ER

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Gastric lavage for elimination of the chemical from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Following this, a suitable skin or eye ointment may be used to treat the exposure
  • Surgical treatment for skin burns including removal of burnt skin
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning?

First aid for Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • If the individual can recover from the symptoms with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good
  • Severe exposure of body organs (mouth, throat, gastrointestinal tract including stomach) to the chemical (particularly to chlorine) can lead to complications and irreversible damage; deaths have been reported due to Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning be Prevented?

Swimming Pool Cleaner Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following instructions for usage of any chemical product
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Wearing appropriate protective wear (such as masks) when working with such chemicals
  • Be aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 2, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018