LAFAYETTE, Col. – At least 22 people, most of them children, reported symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and vomiting from an unknown cause at a Colorado recreation center this weekend, according to Lafayette Fire Chief David Friedel, and the cause remains undetermined. "Thought it might have been chlorine" leak, Friedel said, but "Hazmat crews couldn’t detect anything like that." Friedel said 22 people became ill after entering the pool at the Bob L. Burger Recreation Center on Saturday.
Joe Malinowski, Environmental Health Division Manager for Boulder County Public Health, said no air contaminants were discovered and they were checking to see if something had gone wrong with the chlorination system.
A man identified as “Mike,” told ABC affiliate KMGH-TV that his eyes started burning shortly after seeing people come out from the pool area. "People were coming out coughing and choking and having a hard time breathing," he said. "I started checking on them to see if they were all right."
Friedel told ABC News that everyone taken to area hospitals had been released by Sunday evening.
Extremely high levels of chlorine in the water could possibly release enough gas off of the surface in certain conditions to render breathing difficulties, cause dizziness and blackouts, and burning eyes, especially in poorly vented indoor pools. Chlorine gas can produce these effects, and especially if other chemicals have been added to the pool, along with the chlorine. I have also read that debris and dirt mixed with the chlorine can cause issues, as can urine. When I was a kid, my dad would tell me to wait a few minutes (like 10) for the chlorine to dissolve, spread itself in the water and the gas to evaporate before swimming in their pool. He said it could cause skin irritation and other issues otherwise. I don't know how much truth there is to that, but maybe that's got something to do with what these folks experienced.