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Thread: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

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    Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    I've been swimming in the pool for 1-2 hours each day. My husband accidentally left our SWG on shock levels for several days (not sure how long) I started getting sick a few days ago, feeling like I had a hangover. We just tested the chlorine with a strip and it was off the chart. We diluted it 50% and it was still reading 10ppm FC. We diluted it one more time (1 cup of pool water to 2 cups of our well water) this time the strip read about 5ppm. The last time I went in the pool was about 30 hours ago and it's been covered since then with the SWG off. So I don't know how high it was when I got in. How much higher do you think it could have been? The pool is only a few weeks old and we never added the CYA. Unfortunately I know the sickness is from the chlorine because this happened on day one after he ran a boost cycle and it had way too much chlorine in it then too. I thought he learned not to turn the SWG up anymore without testing it for safe levels, but somehow he made this mistake again. I'm pretty upset because I'm pregnant, a very chemical sensitive person, and I'm wondering how bad this could be for the baby and I. I know this is more of a health question, but I don't know who else I could ask. Thank you.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Hi Lizzy,
    Welcome to TFP. I wish your introduction had been on a more pleasant subject.


    Typically speaking, it is safe to swim in a pool with FC levels up to 40% of the CYA,
    for example, if the CYA is 10, then swimming in water with FC of 4 would be safe.
    If the CYA were 40, the FC of up to 16 is a safe level.

    Without knowing exactly all of the water parameters, which would require a really good test kit for accuracy, (not strips), thats about as much as I can offer.

    Caveat here in that I know zero about being pregnant nor do I work in the medical field, so my comment about safe up to 40% may not be accurate in your particular situation.

    Not sure this is the type of answer you were looking for, but its all I can offer.
    Divin Dave,
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    I just wanted to welcome you to the group and wish you the best of luck. I don't think anyone will be able to give you any meaningful answer to your question here as there are simply way too many other variables at play as it is not just the Free Chlorine level at play here, but also how much and what types of combined chlorine compounds there might be in your pool during your exposure, many or which are far nastier than the Free Chlorine in carcinogenic and mutagenic properties. I am not a medical professional, but I would certainly suggest contacting your doctor about this and explain in detail what happened. Hopefully Chemgeek will respond to this thread and perhaps give you some ball park numbers on exposure effects, I just suspect it will be a BIG ballpark.
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    aussieta's Avatar
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    i would phone your local poison information centre
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Quote Originally Posted by aussieta View Post
    i would phone your local poison information centre

    I called them, they had no info or help.

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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Thank you. Hopefully the chloramines weren't too high. The pool has barely been used yet. Ironically, I purchased this index pool specifically to avoid chloramines and / or too much chlorine during this pregnancy. I haven't had as much skin irritation as I did last summer in the public pool. Just this hangover feeling. I'm guessing the fc was around 40 ppm with no cya. I would love to find any statistics on what swimming in that for several hours could do to you.

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Lizzy, what type of SWG do you have? That will tell us a lot about how much chlorine was produced. All SWGs have a limit as to how much chlorine they can produce. Boost Mode is kind of meaningless as all it does on most cells is just make the cell run at 100% power for 24hrs.

    Also, any info you can provide on your other water parameters would be helpful.

    As well, you said the pool is new. Did your pool builder start up the water? Do you know what chemicals he may have added?

    Absolutely heed the advice given and go see your OB/GYN immediately. If you can't reach them by phone and your ill feelings persist, then you should immediately go to the emergency room of your local hospital. They will have an OB/GYN on call who can assess your medical needs.


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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    It's a 5500 gal. Intex pool. The only thing we added was the salt. The water was city tap water so it had some chlorine to begin with. The swg is a Intex Krystal clear 15,000 gal saltwater system

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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    I am not a medical professional, and as others have stated, if your current symptoms are persisting or concern you, seek advice from your doctor or urgent care ASAP.

    There seems to be a lot of conflicting studies and conclusions on the Internet -- most of the concerns seem to be with high chlorine levels at public pools reacting with dirt and turning into combined chloramines, especially indoor pools with poor ventilation. Most also agree that the health benefits of swimming while pregnant outweigh any potential risks. But again, I am not in any way giving medical advice.

    Going forward, the main things to do for the pool are:

    1) Get the CYA in the pool; a decent CYA level, not too high and not too low, is the key to making the FC level maintainable to comfortable levels.

    2) Get a good test kit (the TFtestkits TF-100 is often used by us here); the drop-based testing for FC, for example, is much more accurate and can go to higher levels without diluting. Especially as you're sensitive, it'll make it much easier to keep the water balanced exactly where you want it. With an SWCG, because it produces chlorine constantly, you can actually set a target a bit lower than if manually dosing; see the pool school here for details -- especially the FC/CYA relationship.
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Welcome to TFP!!!

    I too can not provide medical advice. But for the pool, you really should invest in one of the Recommended Test Kits and take control of the pool. With good numbers, we can certainly help get the pool balanced and perfectly safe for you and your family.
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Well with the strips it's hard to know since they are reporting inconsistent results. The 1:1 dilution showed >10 ppm which means the FC would be >20 ppm, but the 1:2 dilution showed 5 ppm which means the FC would be 15 ppm. The bigger problem is that you never added any CYA to the water so the chlorine is not moderated in its strength. And as you pointed out, the FC level may have been higher before you tested it.

    You should ask a doctor about the health effects for you and your baby and you can tell him/her you may have been exposed to 20 ppm FC chlorine with no Cyanuric Acid to moderate its strength. Odds are they'll say they aren't sure or there's nothing to be done about it, but it would not hurt to ask. Let him/her know that the chlorine may have created chloroform in your nose, throat, and skin (see below).

    In practice what happens with chlorine that you breathe is that it combines with chemicals in your mucous membranes so chlorine itself wouldn't get to your baby. The issue is that the chlorinated organics that are produced can get into your bloodstream if the chlorine reacted with organics that were volatile and entered into your lungs or that were created in skin and had dermal absorption. This EPA document says the following with regard to chlorine exposure, though note that the quantities are referring to chlorine gas and are much higher than what you were exposed to in the air which was more likely to be hypochlorous acid (unless your pH was very low):

    Chlorine is a primary irritant to the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat and to the linings of the entire respiratory tract (Stokinger 1982).
    Usually chlorine exposure would be irritating to your eyes, nose, or throat. The fact that you instead have a feeling like having a hangover indicates to me that this isn't a direct effect from chlorine but rather an effect from chlorine combined with ammonia or some organic. Chloroform exposure for some people results in the feeling like a hangover (see this EPA link regarding symptoms of "dizziness, headache, tiredness, and other effects"). Chloroform is produced when chlorine reacts with citric acid and organics with methyl ketone groups. So my best guess is that your exposure to chlorine created, among other things, chloroform and this was the source of your hangover symptoms. Unfortunately, chloroform is both volatile and absorbs through the skin (though in your case was likely created in your nose, throat, and skin), gets into your bloodstream, and can even cross the blood/brain barrier which is why you can get hangover-like symptoms.

    Unfortunately, as noted in this book (and many other sources), chloroform also crosses the blood/placenta barrier. In fact, both chloroform and ether were early anesthetics but they weren't good ones because the concentration needed to make one unconscious (1500-30,000 ppm for chloroform) is dangerously close to the level that will kill you (40,000 ppm for chloroform) and there is also variation among people. Many people died from early use of anesthetics, but eventually dosages were better controlled (via an inhaler) and then there were observations of babies born to mothers anesthetized by chloroform during childbirth and some effects were noted (babies not kicking or moving as much -- basically lethargic but such effects being temporary). Note that this is a rather high level of chloroform we are talking about.

    So the possibly good news is that while your symptoms might be from chloroform produced from chlorine reacting with organics in your body and that some chloroform may have reached your baby, odds are that the effects on your baby were less than they were on you. The other good news is that chloroform is removed from the body relatively quickly (mostly through exhalation) so the effects are short-term.

    To put you at ease with respect to more normal levels of chlorine in pools, if I assume that you were exposed to at least 15 ppm FC with no CYA, that level is around 375 times higher than the active chlorine amount in pools operating at the minimum FC/CYA level for SWG pools. It's also 25 times higher than the regular SLAM level. And that assumes the 15 ppm FC assumption is correct; the FC level during your exposure may have been even higher and I suspect it probably was given the effects.

    By the way, commercial/public pools not using CYA (such as many indoor pools with 1 ppm FC) have around 25 times higher active chlorine levels compared to the minimum FC/CYA levels that we recommend for SWG pools.
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Thank you Chem Geek. I really appreciate your detailed answer. It gives me something to tell the doctor. Although 375 times the normal amount certainly doesn't put me at ease, that sounds terrible. I think you're totally right about the chloroform. That would explain why I was literally passing out after getting out of the pool. I though it was just because I haven't been sleeping well. My liver feels swollen so I'm going to get some liver function tests done at the hospital. Attached is a photo of the strip I just took this morning if that provides any additional info. The PH is 8.4 TA 80 Thanks!

    Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 8.48.48 AM.jpg

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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Hi Lizzy,

    I have doctors in the family and when I posed your situation to them (I left out details) they all said you should seek medical care as soon as possible especially in the case of pregnancy. Going to the emergency room and being seen by the on-call OB/GYN is not an unreasonable thing to do. Depending on how far along you are, they can perform an ultrasound or, at a minimum, do fetal heart tones to ensure everything is ok. If it were my wife, I would insist on a trip to the ER. I hope you will seek medical care as soon as possible and wish you all the best.

    Just to put some numbers to my original question to you about the size of your SWG and it's chlorine production, here it is. The large sized Intex SWG for up to 15,000 gallon pools is a KRYSTAL CLEAR SALTWATER SYSTEM CG-28663 and, according to the documentation for it found HERE, it produces 12 grams of chlorine gas per hour of operation. That equates to 0.42 ounces of chlorine gas per hour or 0.6ppm FC per hour. In a 24 hour period running at 100% output, the SWG will produce roughly 10ppm FC. This is all calculated for a 5,500 gallon Intex pool.

    However, since you have 0ppm CYA, the FC is not at all protected from sun light degradation and it has a half life of 35mins, meaning that concentration of FC in your pool water is cut in half every 35mins if left exposed to the sun. So, if you were running in BOOST mode and the pool was left uncovered, I would expect the FC to drop rather quickly during the day. The problem is if you covered it at all and/or during the overnight hours. With no UV to reduce the chlorine, the FC will build up.

    So, I'm not sure where your pool water chemistry is at right now but doing two things will make it better - uncover the pool so it sees sunlight and add stabilizer to the water to get to a minimum value of at least 30ppm. SWG pools should have higher recommended CYA levels, but right now the best thing to do is to get any amount of stabilizer in the water so it can moderate the strength of the chlorine back down to tolerable levels.

    For temporary/seasonal pools like Intex (I'm not sure how much longer you plan to keep it up), TFP does not recommend getting the fancy test kits. However, it would be advisable to get a drop-based test kit that can at least properly measure CYA as that would be way more accurate than the test strips you are using right now and knowing the FC and CYA values is critical to good pool care.

    Good luck and best wishes for you!
    Matt
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    I would disagree with your last paragraph. We still would prefer everyone to have one of the recommended test kits because that is needed to KNOW the water parameters. But members with inexpensive pools balk at the cost of the kit, so there are workarounds where one can estimate the parameters. In this case, a recommended test kit would be advisable.
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    to put your mind at ease and KNOW for sure exactly how much chlorine, CYA, PH your dealing with I would recommend getting the TF100 or the Taylot K-2006... Knowing is 1000% better and the test strips are not knowing, they are guessing..
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Thank you everyone for your help. I went to the doctor and of course they aren't experienced in this situation at all so they were looking it up online without finding much. They drew blood for a liver panel test and a chemical screen that we'll have back tomorrow. They said the baby seems fine. He may have been effected before, but right now he's looking normal. (I'm 9 months along) My husband ordered the Poolmaster 22260 5-Way Test Kit from Amazon. Will this work for our situation? We were only planning on having the pool up for a a few more weeks until next year. We took the pool cover off and left if all day today so I guess any readings I get with better test kit won't tell me what the levels were like on Friday when I went in last. We'll just have to go with that ballpark we got from the strips.

    I'm trying to understand what Chem Geek said about my results being
    375 times more active chlorine than normal. I figured that I was only 10 times higher than normal since 4ppm is safe according the the manual and I was somewhere around 40ppm at the most. I know that not having the CYA in there effects the active amounts, so does that mean that the total chlorine was 10 times higher than normal but the active chlorine was 375 times above normal? So, if I had added the CYA it would have protected me somehow? Ironically I didn't add the CYA because I didn't want to add any unnecessary chemicals and I read it was only for keeping the chlorine from degrading in the sunlight. I was keeping the pool covered at all times and only going in for an hour a day usually after the sun was off the pool, so I didn't think I needed it.

    Does anyone know why I wouldn't have any skin reaction if the levels were so high? I typically get a skin rash and itchiness from going to public pools. Since I didn't experience this or notice a very heavy chlorine smell I didn't suspect the pool for several days. I understand that it's the chloramines that cause skin problems and the chlorine smell. And I understand that chloramines are the main health concern here. So, would't my lack of a skin reaction be a good sign?

    Has anyone ever been exposed to similar levels that you know of? Is there any data on what this would do to a person online anywhere?

    Thanks!!

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    I am very glad you went to the doc. PLEASE share what they say with us. We can all learn from this.

    With you being 9 months along I bet the baby is fine!

    Your skin problems from public pools could be due to so many different things such as the levels being out of balance-PH being the biggest one that causes problems.

    That is a "okay" test. It is missing a couple of tests we use-CYA test and FC test for over 5ppm. It should get you to the end of the summer.

    Think of CYA as sunscreen and buffer for FC. They go hand in hand.

    Kim
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    No, that test kit is not one of the Recommended Test Kits ... mainly due to the inadequate chlorine test.
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    Hi Lizzy,

    I'm glad you sought medical help. I'm also glad to hear you're so far along at 9 months. So here's the info I know from an OB/GYN (family) - whatever chemical induced intoxication you experienced (likely chloroform exposure), your baby experienced as well. It's a lot like when they give general anesthesia to a woman who is getting a caesarian section - you often get a "floppy baby" delivered because the baby is being exposed to the same anesthesia as the mom. The upside of all this is that you were exposed at a point in your pregnancy when the baby is basically fully developed. My OB/GYN source would have been way more worried if you were in your first trimester as chemical exposures like that can result in miscarriages. After about 10-12 weeks gestation, the baby basically has all of it's organs developed and you're mostly in the fetal development stage after that (see chart HERE). So, in my own layman's mind, I'm very hopeful for you that everything is ok. I hope your liver panel comes back normal as well as the CBC.

    I'm sure chemgeek will be along shortly to give you a more detailed explanation of hypochlorous acid (active chlorine) versus free chlorine.
    Matt
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    Re: Chlorine Poisoned and pregnant, how bad is this?

    You should talk to your doctor


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